BER launches Environmental System Science Program. Visit our new website under construction!

U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Thermophilic Bacterium Efficiently Deconstructs All Major Plant Biomass Components
Published: May 17, 2013
Posted: July 18, 2013

Conversion of plant biomass to biofuels holds great promise for developing renewable and secure energy sources. However, the presence of lignin in plant biomass creates problems because of its recalcitrance to solubilization and because it limits access to energy-rich polysaccharides, cellulose, and hemicellulose. New research has iden­tified a thermophilic bacterium, Caldicellulosiruptor bascii, that can solubilize the lignin under the same conditions used for degradation of cellulose and hemicellulose, allowing efficient use of plant biomass for microbial growth and biosynthesis of fermentation products. This finding could enable the development of more economical and environ­mental­ly sustainable biomass conversion processes. This research was carried out by a team of scientists at the University of Georgia as part of the U.S. Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center.

Reference: Kataevaa, I., M. B. Foston, S.-J. Yang, S. Pattathil, A. K. Biswal, F. L. Poole II, M. Basen, A. M. Rhaesa, T. P. Thomas, P. Azadi, V. Olman, T. D. Saffold, K. E. Mohler, D. L. Lewis, C. Doeppke, Y. Zeng, T. J. Tschaplinsk, W. S. York, M. Davis, D. Mohnen, Y. Xu, A. J. Ragauskas, S.-Y. Ding, R. M. Kelly, M. G. Hahn, and M. W. W. Adams. 2013. “Carbohydrate and Lignin Are Simultaneously Solubilized from Unpretreated Switchgrass by Microbial Action at High Temperature,” Energy and Environmental Science 6, 2186–95. DOI: 10.1039/C3EE40932E. (Reference link)

Contact: Kent Peters, SC-23.2, (301) 903-5549
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities
  • Research Area: Plant Systems and Feedstocks, Plant-Microbe Interactions
  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts
  • Research Area: DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRC)

Division: SC-33.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

Mar 23, 2021
Molecular Connections from Plants to Fungi to Ants
Lipids transfer energy and serve as an inter-kingdom communication tool in leaf-cutter ants&rsqu [more...]

Mar 19, 2021
Microbes Use Ancient Metabolism to Cycle Phosphorus
Microbial cycling of phosphorus through reduction-oxidation reactions is older and more widespre [more...]

Feb 22, 2021
Warming Soil Means Stronger Microbe Networks
Soil warming leads to more complex, larger, and more connected networks of microbes in those soi [more...]

Jan 27, 2021
Labeling the Thale Cress Metabolites
New data pipeline identifies metabolites following heavy isotope labeling.

Analysis [more...]

Aug 31, 2020
Novel Bacterial Clade Reveals Origin of Form I Rubisco

  • All plant biomass is sourced from the carbon-fixing enzyme Rub [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)