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Title: Industrially useful microorganisms isolated from deep underground science and engineering laboratory (DUSEL) mine biofilms

item Hughes, Stephen

Submitted to: Meeting Abstract
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 11/4/2007
Publication Date: 11/4/2007
Citation: Hughes, S.R., Bang, S., Bleakley, B. 2007. Industrially useful microorganisms isolated from deep underground science and engineering laboratory (DUSEL) mine biofilms [abstract]. Meeting with South Dakota State Mine & Technology (SDSM&T) and South Dakota State University (SDSU). BioDUSEL Section, Day 2, Talk 3. p. 15.

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The fuel ethanol industry in the United States has come of age as a result of the effort to remove the oxygenate methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) from gasoline. Replacement of this oxygenate in the U.S. has led to the establishment of bioethanol as a major industry. To fully achieve the goal of eliminating MTBE will require the production of at least 15 billion gallons of ethanol annually. The U.S. currently produces about 6.0 billion gallons of bioethanol from starch. Making up the difference will necessitate development of cellulosic bioethanol production. To produce ethanol from lignocellulosic feedstocks such as Dried Distiller Grains with Solubles (DDGS), corn stover, corn cobs, or switchgrass requires advanced automated protocols to screen for microorganisms that can saccharify lignocellulose completely and ferment the sugars produced by saccharification to ethanol at high temperatures and at high levels with increased tolerance for solvents that are the conditions found in biorefineries. The Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL) mine provides one of the most promising sources for microorganisms to date. These microorganisms have systematically evolved from organisms introduced from the surface to deep below ground level by humans and animals during mining and through water run off into the mine. The microorganisms in this deep mine have been subjected to temperatures in excess of 100ºC, little external radiation, and in many cases have used lignocellulosic material as a food substrate. The wood in these mines is covered with biofilms that have evolved to survive the harsh environment. It is the objective of this team at South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T), South Dakota State University, and United States Department of Agriculture, National Center For Agricultural Utilization Research, Agricultural Research Service to isolate and characterize anaerobic and aerobic bacteria and fungi that are capable of utilizing the lignocellulose at high temperature to produce biofuels and valuable chemical feedstock for use in industrial applications and to foster this new bioindustrial infrastructure with profitable co-products for chemical feedstocks, animal feed, and better production of starch and cellulosic biofuels. The microorganisms will be screened in high-throughput for growth on cellulose and hemicellulose. They will be examined using automated integrated robotic paradigms for combinations that give optimum growth on recalcitrant lignocellulosic substrates and for maximum ethanol production. Additionally, high-throughput evaluation of chemicals and metabolites produced by these microorganisms will be analyzed in high-throughput HPLC systems to identify new chemicals for industrial use. New strains will be engineered in high-throughput via mass transformation of full length gene libraries to introduce these new DUSEL gene sets into traditional ethanologenic microorganisms for improved cellulases and hemicellulases as well as new genes for metabolic corrections to allow utilization of pentose as well as hexose sugars in fermentation processes.