Research Highlights

DOE grant to support enhanced biofuel crop design

DOE has awarded a $14.3 million grant to study crassu­lacean acid metabolism (CAM) and drought tolerance in biofuel crops to a research team that includes Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee.

“CAM is a photosynthetic CO2 fixation mechanism...

Tension wood holds clues to higher fuel yields from biomass crops

The properties that enable trees to flex in the wind might also prove use­ful in designing better biomass crops. Researchers at the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) are studying those prop­erties to understand how they affect the release of plant...

Final report on intermediate ethanol blends research published

ORNL published a final report on the Intermediate Blends Catalyst Durability Study in February 2012. The two-year program, led by researchers from the Fuels, Engines, and Emissions Research Center, involved driving 82 vehicles over 6 million miles with periodic emissions tests to...

Human mouth microbes provides insight into health, disease

Microbes from the human mouth are telling Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists something about periodontitis and more after they cracked the genetic code of bacteria linked to the condition.

The finding, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences...

ORNL BioEnergy Science Center funding renewed

The U.S. Department of Energy today announced it would fund its three Bioenergy Research Centers for an additional five-year period, subject to continued congressional appropriations. The three Centers—including the BioEnergy Research Center (BESC) led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory...

Boosting Bioenergy

ORNL researchers learn more about biomass recalcitrance

Computer simulations are revealing the biological barriers that prevent the conversion of biomass into energy.

A team led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Jeremy Smith, the director of ORNL’s Center...

ORNL researchers improve soil carbon cycling models

A more robust model of the soil carbon cycle developed at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) improves understanding of carbon residence time in soils and enables scientists to make more accurate climate predictions.

The model does a better job than previous models of...

'Zoomable' map of poplar proteins offers new view of bioenergy crop

Researchers seeking to improve production of ethanol from woody crops have a new resource in the form of an extensive molecular map of poplar tree proteins, published by a team from the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (DOE ORNL).

Populus, a fast-...

BESC submits 32 gene disclosures for future patents

The Bioenergy Science Center (BESC) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) is preparing invention disclosures for 32 different genes that can help improve the yield of ethanol from cellulosic biomass. These genes or their variants function to overcome recalcitrance—difficulty in...

ORNL scientists solve mercury mystery

Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientist Liyuan Liang, left, and a team of researchers have identified two genes required for bacteria to transform inorganic mercury in the environment into methylmercury, an organic and far more toxic form. Pictured with Liang is ORNL...

'Low tech' light in neutron beam illuminates photosynthesis in bacteria

Researchers at the Bio-SANS instrument at the High Flux Isotope Reactor are getting a leg up in their research from an ingenious "low tech" lighting tool that can be fixed to their samples and then pushed directly into the neutron beam, to illuminate the response of layers of...

Forage Genetics plans to commercialize BESC invention

• The invention provides a genetic mechanism for the reduction of lignin biosynthesis while increasing concentration of desirable flavonoids.

• Reduced lignin content increases digestibility and nutritional value of animal feedstocks such as alfalfa, corn and sorghum...

Advances and perspectives on the use of CRISPR/Cas9 systems in plant genomics research

 

Genome editing with site-specific nucleases has become a powerful tool for functional characterization of plant genes and genetic improvement of agricultural crops. Among the various site-specific nuclease-based technologies available for genome editing, the clustered...

An innovative platform for quick and flexible joining of assorted DNA fragments

In order to understand and engineer complex traits, as photosynthesis biodesign, molecular cloning tools for flexible, efficient and reliable assembling of multigene constructs from smaller DNA parts are required. Currently, several limitations hinder the speed, fidelity and...

ORNL Researchers can now more quickly identify which microbes produce mercury toxins in the environment

At Oak Ridge National Laboratory, researchers in the Microbial Ecology and Physiology group in the Biosciences Division have developed designer probes that identify microbes that carry the genes for mercury methylation. These molecular probes also measure or quantify, how many specific...

Temporal Dynamics of In-Field Bioreactor Populations Reflect the Groundwater System and Respond Predictably to Perturbation

In collaboration with researchers at Johns Hopkins University, Colorado State University, The University of Tennessee, The Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The University of Oklahoma and the University of Georgia, Oak Ridge National...

Microbial attachment to cellulose substrate produces widespread gene expression changes

Researchers in the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) are studying the microbial attachment to cellulose substrate which produces widespread gene expression changes.  

Unlike the majority of biofilm forming bacteria, C. thermocellum adheres to substrata that also provide...

Understanding how different plant-derived sugars affect the physiology of a biofuel-producing microbe

Researcher’s at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) are working to understand how different sugars derived from plant material affect the metabolism of a cellulolytic, biofuel-producing microorganism.

Clostridium...

Plant-Derived Terpenes: A Feedstock for Specialty Biofuels

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory in collaboration with The University of Tennessee, The Australian National Laboratory University, and the University of Florida has published in the journal Trends in Biotechnology a review on a proposed roadmap for the commercialization of...

Bacterial boost for bio-based fuels

“Electrical” bacteria are the key ingredient in a new process developed by the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory that recycles wastewater from biofuel production to generate hydrogen. The hydrogen can then be used to convert bio-oil into higher grade liquid fuels...

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