JBEI Paper Among PLOS ONE Top 10% Most Cited Articles

A paper by JBEI researchers has been ranked among the top 10% most cited PLOS ONE articles. “A Thermophilic Ionic liquid-tolerant Cellulase Cocktail for the Production of Cellulosic Biofuels” published in 2012 has already been viewed 8,871 times and cited 50 times as of today. The paper reports the development of an Ionic Liquid-tolerant cellulase cocktail by combining thermophilic bacterial glycoside hydrolases produced by a mixed consortia with recombinant glycoside hydrolases.

DOE Renews Funding for Joint BioEnergy Institute at Berkeley Lab

The Department of Energy’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), led by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), was selected as one of four DOE Bioenergy Research Centers to be awarded a total of $40 million to support innovative research on biofuels and bioproducts.

The state-of-the-art laboratory at DOE’s Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) is located in Emeryville, Calif. (Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt/Berkeley Lab)

The BRC awards, announced today by Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, mark the next research phase at JBEI, established in 2007 by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research within DOE’s Office of Science. JBEI and the new centers will expand their focus on breakthrough science in carbon-neutral biofuels to include more research into the development of innovative bioproducts and bio-based chemicals.

“The revolution in modern biology has opened up vast new opportunities in industry and energy for products and fuels derived from biomass as a sustainable resource,” said Perry. “These centers will accelerate the development of the basic science and technological foundation needed to ensure that American industry and the American public reap the promised benefits of the new bio-based economy.”

JBEI partners include Sandia National Laboratories; the University of California (UC) campuses at Berkeley, Davis, San Diego, and Santa Barbara; the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory; Clemson University; Iowa State University; and TeselaGen Biotechnology Inc.

JBEI was among three BRCs established by DOE a decade ago to accelerate fundamental research in advanced, next-generation biofuels, and to make such technology cost-effective and widely available. The other two centers were the BioEnergy Science Center, led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in partnership with Michigan State University.

Since its founding, JBEI research has yielded 672 peer-reviewed publications, 85 licenses, 23 patents, and five startups. In that time, JBEI has contributed many scientific achievements, including:

  • Engineering bioenergy crops to increase sugar-containing polymers and decrease lignin in plant cell walls
  • Developing an affordable and scalable ionic liquid pretreatment technology
  • Developing microbial routes for the conversion of biomass-derived sugars into advanced, “drop-in” blendstocks for gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels

Jay Keasling, CEO of Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) (Credit: Roy Kaltschmidt/Berkeley Lab)

“JBEI has established a strong track record of producing technologies that make biofuels research easier and that help transform the U.S. bioeconomy,” said Jay Keasling, JBEI’s chief executive officer. “We are very excited to receive this award for continued funding. This third phase of funding will allow JBEI to expand its basic research mission to biomanufacturing of both biofuels and bioproducts from biomass. Ultimately, JBEI’s research will make biofuels affordable and create new renewable bioproducts for consumers and jobs in the agriculture and biotechnology sectors.”

Besides JBEI, the four centers selected today include the Center for Bioenergy Innovation led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory; the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, led by the University of Wisconsin-Madison in partnership with Michigan State University; and the Center for Advanced Bioenergy and Bioproducts Innovation, led by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

The four BRCs, chosen through a rigorous nationwide competition, will receive the initial $40 million funding for fiscal year 2018, with plans to continue funding for an additional four years.

Keasling, who holds joint appointments at Berkeley Lab and UC Berkeley, pointed to potential benefits of JBEI research that go beyond decreasing the nation’s dependence on fossil fuels and reducing its carbon footprint on the environment. When fully scaled, JBEI technology promises to reduce the susceptibility of bioenergy crops to disease and drought, and to produce a variety of bioproducts at industrial scales.

JBEI has actively promoted an interest in science careers through student internships, and will remain committed to developing a skilled workforce that can meet the challenges of the new bio-based economy.

For example, JBEI has partnered with UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science (LHS), considered the only science center in the country that is part of a top-tier, public research university. JBEI and LHS are developing and delivering a recurring biofuel and bioproduct workshop, and lesson plans that will be integrated into LHS curriculum, which reaches 20 percent of the nation’s K-12 students.

“We look forward to entering this next phase of JBEI,” Keasling said. “We have a great team and I look forward to developing bio-based resources that will have a positive impact on peoples’ lives.”

JBEI receives additional support from the California Energy Commission, TeselaGen Biotechnology Inc., and the Heising-Simons Foundation.

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Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory addresses the world’s most urgent scientific challenges by advancing sustainable energy, protecting human health, creating new materials, and revealing the origin and fate of the universe. Founded in 1931, Berkeley Lab’s scientific expertise has been recognized with 13 Nobel Prizes. The University of California manages Berkeley Lab for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science. For more, visit www.lbl.gov.

DOE’s Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit science.energy.gov.

A Whole-Genome Sequenced Rice Mutant Resource for the Study of Biofuel Feedstocks

Researchers at the DOE Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) in collaboration with the Joint Genome Institute (JGI) are reporting the first whole-genome sequence of a mutant population of Kitaake, a model variety of rice. Their high-density, high-resolution catalog of mutations facilitates the discovery of novel genes and functional elements that control diverse biological pathways. Read more

Keasling to Receive 2017 Amgen Biochemical and Molecular Engineering Award

JBEI’s CEO Jay Keasling has been selected as the 2017 recipient of the Amgen Biochemical and Molecular Engineering award, to be presented July 19 at the 20th Conference on Biochemical and Molecular Engineering in Newport Beach, Calif. The award, given in memory of metabolic engineering pioneer James E. “Jay” Bailey, recognizes research excellence and leadership.

Biotech Partners Recognizes Irina Silva as Exceptional Mentoring Partner

On Wednesday, May 31, Biotech Partners honored Irina Silva, Communications and Outreach Manager for the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), for her outstanding support of their internship program. Biotech Partners is a non-profit with the mission of educating underserved youth in the Bay Area with personal, academic, and professional development experiences that increase participation in higher education and access to fulfilling science careers. Last year, Silva served as a mentor partner, organizing development activities and internship opportunities for 7 students at JBEI and the Advanced Biofuels Process Demonstration Unit (ABPDU). “We are opening the door to students who may not think of themselves as future scientists,” said Silva. “At the end of their internships, the students leave as confident individuals with solid lab and professional skills.”

(pictured, L to R: Shabir, Silva, and Johnson)

Silva, who has been involved with Biotech Partners for three years, was recognized as Exceptional Mentoring Partner. Skylar Johnson & Emara Shabir, a Berkeley High School student who interned at JBEI’s Fuels Synthesis Division last summer, presented the award at the Biotech Partners’ 5th Biennial Gala Celebration in Oakland . Since it was founded in 1993, Biotech Partners has provided this type of hands-on biotech experience for over 2500 students, and boast a 100% high school graduation rate for members of their Biotech Academy. “Many of our interns have gone on to pursue post-secondary studies, including local community colleges and UC system schools, “said Silva. “It has been very rewarding to see them mature and feel empowered to pursue their dreams.”

A Decade of Bioenergy Research, Ethanol Producer Magazine

Ethanol Producer Magazine featured the achievements of JBEI and its sister Bioenergy Research Centers this past decade in its June print edition. The three BRCs have published 2,500 papers and generated nearly 600 invention disclosures, an average of five papers per week and five inventions per month over the decade.

Read more

JBEI’s Vy Ngo Awarded Grace Fimognari Memorial Prize

Vy Ngo, student assistant with JBEI’s Feedstocks Division was awarded the Grace Fimognari Memorial Prize during UC Berkeley’s Molecular & Cell Biology (MCB) 2017 Commencement. The Prize established in 1969 is awarded to outstanding graduating senior in the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology (BMB) emphasis of the MCB major. Ngo was mentored by Jenny Mortimer, JBEI’s Director of Plant Systems Biology, initially through Berkeley Lab’s Community College Internship (CCI) program in 2015 and then completed the Science Undergraduate Laboratory Internship (SULI) program in 2016. She continued to intern at JBEI as she transitioned to UC Berkeley.

Papers by JBEI Researchers Among Journal’s Most Impactful Articles

Two papers by Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) researchers are currently ranked among the most popular articles published in the journal BioEnergy Research. “An Investigation on the Economic Feasibility of Macroalgae as a Potential Feedstock for Biorefineries,” published in in 2015, is among the most downloaded, and “Assessment of Lignocellulosic Biomass Using Analytical Spectroscopy: an Evolution to High-Throughput Techniques,” published in 2014, is among the most cited. In the former paper, the authors—Murthy Konda, Seema Singh, Blake Simmons, and the late Daniel Klein-Marchschamer—presented a detailed technoeoconomic analysis of the economic potential and cost drivers of macroalgae as a feedstock for the production of biofuels and biochemicals. In the latter, Jason Lupoi, Singh, and Simmons undertook a comparative review of rapid, high-throughput spectroscopic techniques and standard, more time-intensive techniques to analyze candidate terrestrial biomass feedstocks for desirable traits.

Spring 2017 Undergraduate Poster Session Held at JBEI

From left: Undergraduates students Nikit Paterl and Linda Xu (Fuels Synthesis Division)

JBEI’s spring 2017 undergraduate poster session and celebration took place on May 5. The participant undergraduate students are currently enrolled at UC Berkeley and were given the opportunity to work in lab projects related to JBEI’s research program.

As part of their internship at JBEI they had to either present a poster or oral presentation during their first semester and once every subsequent year in order to receive an “A” grade in their research course.

This year 21 posters were presented and the students did a great job in making the link between their internship research goals and the industry’s challenges.

From left: Mentor Laure Leynaud-Kieffer with undergraduate Irene Kim (Deconstruction Division)

The poster session included a competition. Maya Ramamurthy (Deconstruction Division) won Best Poster Design and Yvette Tran (Fuels Synthesis Division) won Best Verbal Presentation.

To learn more about research experiences at JBEI visit this page.

From left: Maya Ramamurthy, Deconstruction Division, winner of Best Poster Design and Yvette Tran, Fuels Synthesis Division, winner of Best Verbal Presentation.