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Genomic Science Program

Systems Biology for Energy and the Environment

Department of Energy Office of Science. Click to visit main DOE SC site.

Genomic Science Program

Science Focus Area (Completed Project): National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Design Principles Controlling Hydrogen Metabolism in Phototrophic Organisms

The primary scientific goal of this SFA is to obtain a systems-level understanding of the ferre­doxin interactome to enhance H2 and other biofuels production in the green alga Chlamy­domonas reinhardtii. The overall objectives of the program are to utilize genomics research tools to understand C. reinhardtii metabolism under anaerobic and nutrient-deprived conditions that trigger either H2 production or lipid accumulation and, eventually, apply this knowledge to other phototrophs. This enhanced scientific understanding will accelerate the development of future biofuels-producing organisms. The specific objectives of this research to date have been: (i) develop, validate, and apply novel high-throughput assays to screen large cell populations of H2-producing organ­isms, which allows for identification of high H2-producers at solar intensities; and (ii) deconvolute the network of metabolic pathways centered around six ferredoxin homologs found in Chlamydomonas. This work has been aimed at understanding reductant flux associated with photobiological hydrogen production and at identifying targets for future pathway engineering strategies that will eliminate or reduce metabolic flux into non-productive pathways. Future research will aim at enhancing yields in other metabolic, fuel-producing pathways that depend on the activity of ferredoxins, such as fatty acid synthesis, as well as starch accumulation and fermentation.

Scientific Focus Area Manager for NREL: Richard Greene1

SFA Technical Manager: Maria L. Ghirardi1

Participating Scientists: Alexandra Dubini1, Matthew Wecker2  

Participating Institutions: 1National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colorado; 2Genebiologics LLC, Boulder, Colorado

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