Microbe Systems Biology for Biofuel

Our Aims

(1) Identify novel genes for biomass utilization in rhizobium/rhizosphere of wild legumes. Metatranscriptomic profiling of wild legume rhizosphere microbial communities under various environmental conditions will be used to identify novel genes and pathways that could improve xylose use (e.g., novel sugar transporters, xylose metabolizing enzymes, and xylitol excretion) and lignocellulolytic degradation.

(2) Functional improvement of biomass utilization in S. cerevisiae. We will test candidate genes involved in xylose utilization in rhizobium and lignocellulose breakdown in rhizospher of wild legumes by heterologous expression in S.cerevisiae. We also propose to utilize high throughput functional "barcoding" assays to identify yeast genes that modulate sensitivity to commercial lignocellulose fermentation conditions including high solids concentration, inhibitory compounds present in the hydrolysate of lignocellulosic biomass, high sugar (xylose, hexoses) and fermentation product (Ethanol and Xylitol (byproduct) concentrations. Together these two approaches should enable identification of exogenous and endogenous genes involved in optimal biomass utilization.