Recently reported in Nature Communications, researchers led by Hal Alper at The University of Texas at Austin and Michael Jewett of Northwestern University describe a two-pronged approach that starts with engineered yeast cells but then moves out of the cell structure into a cell-free system. The work complements efforts to further develop sustainable alternative approaches for manufacturing bioproducts and biofuels. This is the first report of their work supported through the JGI’s Emerging Technologies Opportunity Program. Read the full story here on the JGI website.
Maize (Zea mays) produces a plethora of antibiotics called zealexins. These compounds protect maize by fending off fungal and microbial infections. Scientists had assumed that maize synthesizes these compounds via clear, straight pathways, entailing the function of more than a dozen enzymes. But now, with the help of JGI’s DNA synthesis capability, researchers know that just a handful of enzymes are needed to transform zealexins and related precursors into a bonanza of diverse structures. Read more of the science highlight on the JGI website.
A team led by University of Texas, Austin scientists has developed a more nuanced library approach to tuning gene expression in metabolic pathways. Compared to the traditional way, which leverages an all-or-nothing approach, they can now fine-tune the level of gene expression. In a study, they were able to identify variations of essential genes in metabolic networks that were missed using traditional approaches. The work appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Read more on the JGI website.
Four Berkeley Lab projects were awarded $1 million from the DOE’s Technology Commercialization Fund (TCF) to further collaborative research with industry partners on biofuels, bioproducts, energy microgrid technology, and renewable energy technology. Two projects from the Biosciences Area were awarded funding for research to enable rapid strain engineering for the production of biofuels and bioproducts from low-cost gas feedstock, and produce a new aviation biofuel precursor from cellulosic biomass
In Science, a team led by researchers at the Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Terrestrial Microbiology and the University of Bordeaux have developed a platform that mimics chloroplast function within a cell-sized system. Photosynthesis harnesses carbon captured from the atmosphere in a process that generates energy. The MPI team led by Tobias Erb, director of the MPI for Terrestrial Microbiology, ultimately aims to develop an artificial photosynthesis pathway that would more efficiently remove carbon from the atmosphere than current natural processes and use it as a sustainable resource for making high-value bioproducts. The work was enabled in part through an approved JGI’s Community Science Program (CSP) Functional Genomic proposal from the Erb lab. Learn more here on the JGI website.