The Microbial Communities research team prospects for new enzymes that can efficiently deconstruct lignocellulosic biomass. Group members take samples from such places as rain forest floors and composts. From these samples, specific microbes and enzymes are identified, isolated, and manipulated, and a suite of “omics” tools is used for genome-level community characterization.
Specific work includes:
- Adaptation of thermophilic bacterial consortia to grow on biomass substrates
- Discovery of enzymes for lignocellulose deconstruction in halophilic environments
- Mechanisms of tolerance to ionic liquids in bacteria and fungi
- Discovery of mechanisms for bacterial lignin deconstruction and new aromatic metabolic pathways