Deconstruction

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GLBRC's Deconstruction Research Area

Deconstruction

GLBRC's Deconstruction Lead takes top academic slot

Located at the intersection of the U.S.’s agricultural heartland and its northern forests, the GLBRC has access to a rich diversity of raw biomass for study. The Center's Deconstruction research focuses on identifying the best combinations of enzymes, chemicals, and physical processing methods for enhancing the digestibility of specific biomass sources.

Learn about the Center's research approach

Deconstruction Leadership

Deconstruction Lead

Dale is an expert on making ethanol from cellulose, plant stalks, grass, corn cobs and other woody plant parts and has developed a patented process called ammonia fiber expansion (AFEXTM), which makes the breakdown of cellulose more efficient, thus tackling...

Deconstruction Lead

Fox's research goals are to define the structure and the reactivity of the active site diiron center, to probe the catalytic contributions of the active site protein residues and to determine the consequences of protein-protein and protein-substrate interactions on the...

Project Overview

A biofuels reactor designed to produce ethanol at Michigan State University's Biomass Conversion Research Lab (BCRL)GLBRC Deconstruction research maintains a focus on the entire biofuels production pipeline: in addition to identifying and improving natural cellulose-degrading enzymes extracted from diverse environments, researchers apply unique biomass pretreatment technologies—such as ammonia fiber expansion (AFEX™), alkaline hydrogen peroxide (AHP), and extractive ammonia (EA)—that enable conversion technologies to maximize plant biomass utilization.. Researchers also explore strategies to add value to these processes by developing co-products from materials that would otherwise be treated as waste, such as lignin. Specific deconstruction projects include:

  • Pretreatment effects on biomass, alkaline peroxide pretreatment, fuel production from alkaline-pretreated biomass
  • Optimization of enzymes for biomass conversion, discovery of natural cellulolytic microbes, identification of novel microbial enzymes, and combinatorial discovery of enzymes and proteins

Deconstruction Publications

Evolution of high cellulolytic activity in symbiotic Streptomyces through selection of expanded gene content and coordinated gene expression

Adam J. Book; Gina R. Lewin; Bradon R. McDonald; Taichi E. Takasuka; Evelyn Wendt-Pienkowski; Drew T. Doering; Steven Suh; Kenneth F. Raffa; Brian G. Fox; Cameron R. Currie

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2016

Cellulose deconstruction helps shape the global carbon cycle; this study shows that high cellulolytic ability evolved in select lineages of the bacterial genus Streptomyces through key changes in gene content and transcriptional regulation.

Inhibition of microbial biofuel production in drought-stressed switchgrass hydrolysate

Rebecca G. Ong; Alan Higbee; Scott Bottoms; Quinn Dickinson; Dan Xie; Scott A. Smith; Jose Serate; Edward Pohlmann; Arthur D. Jones; Joshua J. Coon; Trey K. Sato; Gregg R. Sanford; Dustin Eilert; Lawrence G. Oates; Jeff S. Piotrowski; Donna M. Bates; David Cavalier; Yaoping Zhang

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2016

Isolation and characterization of new lignin streams derived from extractive-ammonia (EA) pretreatment

Leonardo da Costa Sousa; Marcus Foston; Vijay Bokade; Ali Azarpira; Fachuang Lu; Arthur J. Ragauskas; John Ralph; Bruce Dale; Venkatesh Balan

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2016

Microorganisms and their residues under restored perennial grassland communities of varying diversity

Chao Liang; Jenny Kao-Kniffin; Gregg R. Sanford; Kyle Wickings; Teri C. Balser; Randall D. Jackson

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2016

Rising atmospheric CO2 concentration and global mean temperatures have stimulated interest in managing terrestrial systems to sequester more carbon and mitigate climate change. In a restored prairie experiment, we compared high diversity (HD, 25 species) with low diversity (LD, 6 species) prairies to investigate the effect of plant diversity on soil microbial communities and their residues with soil depth. We assayed lipid and amino sugar biomarkers for soil samples, taken after 9 years following the establishment of the prairie treatment, at 5 depth increment layers: 0–2 cm, 12–15 cm, 25–27 cm, 50–52 cm, and 98–100 cm. We found that the microbial biomass and residues decreased considerably with depth in both diversity treatments. Ordination analysis of lipid profiles indicated soil microbial communities were consistently distinct between the deeper and the upper layers, regardless of treatment, and also differed between the LD and HD treatments. Plant diversity effects on soil microbial communities strongly correlated with arbuscular mycorrhizal fungi (AMF), as indicated by the lipid marker 16:1ω5c. Soil microbial residues in deeper horizons were relatively more enriched in HD than LD treatments, suggesting that greater plant diversity might sustain higher soil carbon storage through relatively recalcitrant necromass inputs in the long term. Decreasing glucosamine/muramic acid (GluN/MurA) ratio in LD and increasing in HD with depth suggested that the new microbially-accumulated carbon was positively contributed by fungal-derived residues. Our results indicate that plant diversity drives soil microbial carbon sequestration through changes in AMF abundance in restored native tallgrass ecosystems. These findings have implications for understanding how the management of plant diversity can improve soil quality and sustainability in grasslands, and how efforts to conserve and restore diverse grasslands could mitigate greenhouse gas emissions.

Nanoscale structure of biomass

Shi-You Ding

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2016

Plant biomass is a renewable source that can be processed to produce biofuels and biomaterials. The plant cell walls are the major material in biomass. Depending on plant species and the time of harvest, biomass varies in its anatomical structure and chemical composition. This chapter summarizes general structure of the plant cell walls in different plant tissues and plant species, and updates are given from new findings in in situ imaging at nanoscale resolution and real-time changes during biomass deconstruction processes. The physicochemical properties of biomass that affect the efficiency of thermochemical pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis are also discussed.

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