Microbial Communities

The road to the biofuels starts with unique ecosystems where the Microbial Communities research team targets new enzymes and microbes that can efficiently deconstruct biomass. Group members take samples from such places as rain forest floors, salt marshes and composts. From these samples specific microbes and enzymes are identified, isolated and manipulated. A suite of “omics” tools is then used to analyze these microbes and develop a comprehensive knowledge base of genomic and proteomic characteristics of microbial communities.


  • Adaptation of thermophilic bacterial consortia to grow on biomass substrates
  • Discovery of enzymes for lignocellulose deconstruction in halophilic enviroments
  • Mechanisms of tolerance to ionic liquids in bacteria and fungi
  • Discovery of mechanisms for bacterial lignin deconstruction and new aromatic metabolic pathways

Featured Media

JBEI Expert Steve Singer on the role of microbial communities in biomass breakdown

In this video Steve Singer, Director of Microbial Communities explains how JBEI researchers are investigating the role of microbial communities in the breakdown of bioenergy crops, such as switchgrass, and how this leads to the production of better biofuels.

MaxBin: Automated Sorting Through Metagenomes

JBEI researchers developed MaxBin to automatically recover individual genomes from metagenomes using an expectation-maximization algorithm.

Resistance is Not Futile: Joint BioEnergy Institute Researchers Engineer Resistance to Ionic Liquids in Biofuel Microbes

Joint BioEnergy Institute Researchers have identified the genetic origins of a microbial resistance to ionic liquids and successfully introduced this resistance into a strain of E. coli bacteria for the production of advanced biofuels.

Microbial Who-Done-It For Biofuels

New Technique Identifies Populations Within a Microbial Community Responsible for Biomass Deconstruction

Microbe That Can Handle Ionic Liquids

JBEI researchers have identified a tropical rainforest microbe that can endure relatively high concentrations of an ionic liquid used to dissolve cellulosic biomass for the production of advanced biofuels.

Featured Publications

Featured Intellectual Property

Microbial Community Links