PhysOrg points to the addition of a seventh research theme to the agenda of the new Institute for Genomic Biology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign: Molecular Bioengineering for Biomass Conversion.
The multi-disciplinary research team will tackle using bioengineering as an approach to improving the efficient conversion of biofuels on five primary tracks:
How to alter plant cell wall materials to make them more amenable for bioprocessing by using genomic and proteomic information.
How to improve the breakdown of plant fiber by better understanding the genomics of the specialist bacteria that breakdown plant cell walls.
How metabolic engineering in combination with directed evolution and rational design methods may re-engineer microbes in order to generate novel compounds.
How to optimize new technologies for bioreactor design and engineering, product recovery, isolation and purification of targeted biomolecules.
How to use economic modeling as a predictor of commercial success for the production of new biomolecules from renewable biomass.
In May, the Department of Energy awarded the IGB a $2.98 million grant to focus on the genetic responses of soybeans to climate change. It was the first grant the new IGB (formed in 2003) had received.