Biofuels Research

This program develops the components of a commercially viable biofuel production systems. The team develops transgenic microalgae with increased photosynthetic efficiency and enhanced oil production. They explore novel oil extraction technologies that reduce biofuel production costs.

Microalgal biotechnology research at the NMC includes:

  • Development of photosynthetic carbon reduction pathways in green algae and plants.
  • Research on synthetic carbon fixation pathways to meet domestic energy demands and sustainable production.
  • Improving photosynthetic efficiency and carbon concentrating efficiency in biofuel feedstocks.
  • Investigating strategies for containment of organisms that affect the health/yield of the algae essential for biofuel production.

Current active biofuels research at the NMC:

 

Atmospheric Aerosols and Precursors form Algal Biofuel Production

 

DMS, produced by phytoplankton, is a major source of cloud condensation nuclei over the ocean. The main oblective of this study is to determine of DMS is a major byproduct of algal biofuel production and to examine the implications of moving a primarily marine cycle to the terrestrial biome. 

 

Enhancing Biofuels from Genetially Engineered Camelina

The Center for Enhanced Camelina Oil (CECO) proposes to incrase the harvestable energy yield of Camelina oil as well as improve the composition of the oil to be a more stable and energy dense biofuel feedstock. 
 

PACE: Producing Algae for Coproducts and Energy

 

This research seeks to make algal biofuels more marketable by focusing on methods to improve algal productivity, the cultivation process, and harvesting. 

 

More Realization of Algal Potential (REAP) Research

Will develop the ability to produce 2500 gal/acre/year of algal biofuel intermediates by 2018 by integrating and extending the most promising organisms and technologies developed with sequential extraction process that separates starches and amino acids prior to hydrothermal conversion of remaining lipid to a biofuel intermediate.
 
 
 

 

Human Health and Agricultural Research

 

Human Health and Agricultural Research at the NMC is supported by internationally recognized expertise in genome research, microbiology, immunology, structural biology, bioinformatics, and modeling, and brings together scientists from across the world to collaborate on global challenges. NMC's Biological Laboratory provides state of the art facilities to researchers from the NMC, Los Alamos National Laboratory, universities, and industry. The Laboratory includes a 12,000 square foot general use wet laboratory facilities, specialized laboratories, and a 4,000 square foot research greenhouse. This combination of capabilities and facilities enables scientists at the NMC to carry out forefront basic research on the role of immune systems in countering major pathogen threats.
                                                

Basic Research

The projects in basic science include:

  • Quantitative understanding of subversion of immune pathways due to pathogenic infection.
  • Analysis of genome-wide expression of the genes/proteins belonging to the immune pathways to identify specific genes and proteins that are suppressed or activated during pathogenesis.
  • Determination of how pathogen virulence factors interact with specific host proteins to hijack the immune defense pathways (such as autophagy) to establish pathogenic niche.
  • Identification of specific host microRNAs that are normally induced for beneficial regulation of immune defense but are aberrantly induced upon pathogenic infection to the detriment of the host.
  • Development of algorithms and software for determining macromolecular structures by X-ray diffraction and cryo-EM.

Translational Research

Basic science leads to the development of the following projects in translational science:

  • Design and delivery of therapeutic proteins that enhance the ability of the plant host to recognize and kill the wildtype and resistant pathogens that cause deadly diseases and tremendous economic loss (examples: Xylella fastidiosa that causes Pierce’s Disease in grape; Candidatus Liberibacter that causes citrus greening).
  • Design and delivery of therapeutic proteins that clear bacteria and their toxins and prevent them from harming human immune system.
  • Design of small molecule therapeutics that block pathogen virulence factors and prevent them hijacking our immune defense (such as autophagy).
  • Suppression and/or activation of specific host microRNAs to rescue human and plant immune defense.
For more information see:
 

Current Efforts in Alzheimer's Disease Research

 
The human health research extends beyond pathogens to other diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease, understanding and treatment of which is a major state and national healthcare focus. 
 
The human immune system is compromised in Alzheimer’s disease and in other neurological disorders.  Hence, similar combination of basic and translational science is currently underway to understand and counter Alzheimer’s disease and other related neurological disorders.
 
 

Research Team

 
Click here to see the people involved. 

 

These projects are funded by multiple federal agencies and private sponsors.

 

 

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