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ARS Home » Midwest Area » Peoria, Illinois » National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research » Bioenergy Research » Research » Research Project #438817

Research Project: Technologies to Improve Conversion of Biomass-Derived Sugars to Bioproducts

Location: Bioenergy Research

Project Number: 5010-41000-190-00-D
Project Type: In-House Appropriated

Start Date: Sep 17, 2020
End Date: Sep 16, 2025

Objective:
Objective 1: Dissect molecular mechanisms underlying yeast tolerance against toxic chemicals present in lignocellulosic sugars, to enable engineering of biocatalysts for efficient biorefinery processes. Objective 2: Discover genes and pathways activated in response to lignocellulosic hydrolysates in an inhibitor-tolerant fungus, to generate less-toxic feedstocks for producing bioproducts. Objective 3: Develop new gene regulation technologies and engineer metabolic pathways for increased yield of bio-based products.

Approach:
Renewable biofuels have the potential to reduce U.S. dependency on imported oil, lower greenhouse gas emissions, and enhance rural economies. It is estimated that biomass availability can exceed one billion tons per year. Although technologically proven, commercialization of lignocellulosic biomass biorefining has been slowed by technical risks and unfavorable operating and capital costs. A major limitation that remains, as an issue for biorefineries, is the lack of suitable biocatalysts tolerant to inhibitors generated during the production of fermentable sugars. Efficient fermentation of these biomass-derived sugars into bioproducts at high yields is also an ongoing challenge. To address these issues, this project plans to identify genes/alleles, regulatory sequences, and pathways that are required for tolerance to the major inhibitory compounds found in lignocellulosic hydrolysates. Additionally, the inhibitor-tolerant biocatalysts will be used as platform microorganisms for synthesis of multiple bioproducts.