Skip to main content
ARS Home » Research » Research Project #416599


Location: Office of International Research Programs

2011 Annual Report

1a. Objectives (from AD-416)
The objective of this Annex is to establish the Joint US-Sino Center for Biofuel Research under the leadership of the USDA/ARS’ National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research (NCAUR) in conjunction with the Institute of New Energy Technology, Tsinghua University, Beijing, China. Other Academic partners may be invited by the principles and should be approved by both institutions that fit the mission related effort. . This Annex is subject to the terms and conditions of the S & T Agreement and the Protocol. In the event of any conflict between the terms and conditions of the S & T Agreement or the Protocol and this Annex, the S & T Agreement and the Protocol shall govern.

1b. Approach (from AD-416)
Cooperation under this Annex may include, but is not limited to, the following topic areas: • To characterize detoxification dynamics, metabolic profiles, and ethanol production potential of tolerant ethanologenic yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae NRRL Y-50049 and other genetically engineered tolerant yeast strains during ethanol conversion using industrial processing by-products corncobs. • To develop improved fermentation process and conditions for optimized performance of selected tolerant yeast for cost-efficient ethanol production using low cost biomass feedstocks including but not limited to sweet sorghum feedstocks. • To develop enzymatic and microbiological biocatalytists for degradation of biomass and enhanced performance for a low cost biomass-to-ethanol conversion. • To develop high-yield tolerant fermentative strains efficiently utilizing multiple sugars derived from divergent lignocellulosic biomass resources. • To address existing and emerging challenging issues from genomics and genetic engineering to fermentation design, optimization, and pipeline process engineering contributing to a sustainable and cost-competitive biofuels production. • To develop bioenergy crops, including improved germplasm and crop management technologies such as for pest control. To generate broad interest and increased activities, the Parties will, upon mutual consent, involve other interested government agencies and the scientific and business communities of both countries in cooperative programs, trade capacity-building activities, and scientific cooperation and exchanges in implementation of this Annex.

3. Progress Report
The annual Joint Working Group met in Yangling China on Feb 21-23, 2011 to review progress in this activity. Dr. Z. Lewis Liu, ARS-NCAUR, Peoria, IL coordinates ARS cooperative research conducted under this annex. On Sept, 2010, Dr. Liu delivered an invited lecture entitled “Reprogrammed glucose metabolic pathways of inhibitor-tolerant yeast” for American Institute of Chemical Engineers Midwest Regional Conference, Chicago, Il. Dr. Liu has been working closely with Dr. Li Shizhong and postdoc research associate Dr. Zhang Lei from Tsinghua Univ. on a joint research effort of cellulose ethanol production from industrial processed corncob residues since 2008. They completed the research and in August 2010 developed a co-authored manuscript that is expexted to be published in September/October, 2011 as peer-reviewed article. A part of work on reprogrammed pathway analysis of ARS developed tolerant yeast was selected for the use on the cover of every issue of Molecular Genetics and Genomics for the year of 2011. Using a systems biology approach, ARS scientist designed a new generation of ethanologenic yeast S. Cerevisiae for lignocellulose-to-ethanol industry. The newly developed yeast strain is tolerant to lignocellulosic hydrolysates and able to competitively utilize xylose and mixed sugar fermentations for economical lignocellulosic ethanol production. Collaborations of USDA-MOST research in the past few years provided an opportunity to develop desirable yeast strains specific for applications in simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) suitable for cellulosic ethanol production. ARS recently developed a new ethanol-producing yeast that is also able to produce ß-glucosidase, an enzyme needed for cellulose conversion using SSF. This technology reduces production cost by eliminating a necessary cellobiose-to-glucose conversion enzyme. It fit applications of lower-cost ethanol production using industrial processed corncob residues currently practiced in China and has a potential ARS technology transfer development.

4. Accomplishments