High Throughput Biochemistry

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Trent Northen

Director of High Throughput Biochemistry

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Kai Deng

Research Scientist

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Jenny Onley

Guest Post Doctoral Researcher

Developing cost effective methods for deconstructing plant biomass into microbial substrates and subsequent conversion to biofuels and bioproducts requires rapid analytical methodologies. To address this challenge we have developed a nanoliter-scale acoustic sample deposition and nanostructure-initiator mass spectrometry (NIMS) analysis platform to rapidly detect and characterize a wide range of enzymatic activities, but primarily focused on glyco- and lignolytic enzyme activities and substrate specificities. We are applying this approach for analysis of in vitro and cell based expression systems to quickly screen large libraries of enzymes against a wide range of substrates including native plant biomasses. This effort will serve as the foundation in the development of this new technology that will have several applications, including enzyme “cocktail” engineering for enhanced performance in industrially relevant biorefining operating environments for the production of sugars from biomass. We have recently expanded these approaches for screening of biofuel molecules among other bioproducts. In addition, we have integrated NIMS analysis with microfluidics to create devices that enable microscale enzymatic activity analyses. Together these capabilities are enabling discovery and characterization of high performance enzymes and microbes to help advance sustainable biofuel and bioproduct platforms.


  • Development and application of high throughput assays for discovery and characterization of lignolytic enzymes
  • Integrated mass spectrometry based screening of lignocelluose deconstruction products (cellulose, hemicelluose, and lignin)
  • Development and application of nanoliter scale analyses to rapidly screen microbial biofuel/bioproduct profiles

Featured Media

High Throughput Biochemistry at JBEI Using Acoustic Printing

Metabolomics Approaches at Berkeley Lab

Featured Publications

Featured Intellectual Property