Innovative, ground-breaking applied research to address energy and food challenges:
- New technologies, used in over 26 countries, to diagnose plant health and performance
- Engineering bacteria for industrial and medical applications
- Green economy: biofuels and renewables through algae and microbial communities
DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center – Biodesign team (Kerfeld lab)
The Kerfeld group is part of the GLBRC Biodesign team involved in metabolic pathway engineering in the industrially-relevant microorganism, Zymomonas mobilis. Read more.
DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center – Bioenergy Plant Design Team – Increasing MLG in the cell wall of sorghum (Brandizzi lab)
The major goal of this project is to improve sorghum for production of biofuels and specialty products through the identification of mechanisms that control the synthesis and deposition of mixed-linkage glucan, define the gene regulatory network controlling sorghum responses to cell wall modifications and abiotic stress and develop transgenic sorghum with on-demand switches for increased productivity and health. Read more.
The Center for Catalysis in Biomimetic Confinement (Kerfeld, Ducat and Vermaas labs)
The overarching goal of the Center for Catalysis in Biomimetic Confinement (CCBC) is to understand the means by which Nature spatially organizes catalysis across scales using compartmentalization in bacteria. The team of investigators from Michigan State University, Argonne National Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will work together to acquire a fundamental understanding of how multi-step reaction pathways are confined within and optimized by selectively permeable protein-based shells of Bacterial Microcompartments (BMCs) and to apply this knowledge to establish BMC shell proteins as building blocks that can be used for confined, hierarchically-ordered biological and synthetic multi-step catalysis for reactions that can help address global challenges related to energy and the environment. Read more.
Engineered Living Materials for the Delivery of Engineered Probiotics and Therapeutics – National Institutes of Health (Kerfeld lab)
This project was developed at an NIH sponsored JUMPSTART intended to bring synthetic biology to cancer and other diseases. Kerfeld and collaborator and PI Taylor Ware of Texas A&M University devised novel approaches to treat urinary tract infections by manipulating the metabolome and microbiome of the bladder using Bacterial Microcompartments. The project also involves Co-PI Sarguru Sabash (also of Texas A&M) for testing in an animal model system. Therapeutic devices, constructed on bacterial microcompartment architectures will also be deployed. Read more.
Life beyond Earth: Effect of space flight on seeds with improved nutritional value – NASA (Brandizzi lab)
The major goal of this project is to test the effect of lunar orbit flight in the Orion capsule on the amino acid content and viability of wild type seeds and genetically modifies seeds with altered levels of essential amino acids. The results from this project will inform us on the impact of lunar orbit flight on seed quality and on the selection of germplasm for future space exploration. Read more.
Structural Mechanisms Governing Photosynthetic Energy Flow in Cyanobacteria – DOE-BES Individual Investigator Grant (Kerfeld lab)
All photosynthetic organisms require mechanisms to regulate the amount of energy they absorb for photosynthesis to avoid damage from excess irradiance. In cyanobacteria, photosynthetic bacteria that are the ancestors of plant chloroplasts, the structure and positioning of the light-harvesting antenna, the phycobilisome (PBS) provides an example of a molecular control mechanism that governs energy flow. We expect that outcomes from determining the mechanistic details of PBS positioning, our model system will become a key platform for fundamental research on energy transfer in pigment-protein complexes. Likewise, it will serve as inspiration for synthetic biologists, chemists and materials scientists to design new sustainable technologies for harnessing the clean and abundant energy in sunlight. Read more.