Biofuels derived from plant biomass avoid many of the economic and environmental problems that plague traditional energy sources. However, existing technologies are insufficient to allow for industrial-scale conversion of plant waste into simple sugars and resulting conversion into renewable fuels. Researchers expect to help mitigate this issue by studying how anaerobic gut fungi break down lignocellulose in biomass-rich environments, such as the digestive tracts of cows and other large herbivores. This project focuses on sequencing novel gut fungal isolates and constructing gene expression profiles, characterizations that are likely to reveal hundreds of novel enzymes that are useful for biomass breakdown. This information is expected to help develop the tools to engineer anaerobic gut fungi as novel platform organisms for biofuel production from lignocellulosic biomass.
Proposer’s Name: Michelle O’Malley