News from the Chair

Keith Lidke
Keith Lidke

Lidke Lab project to be part of new Department of Energy Research Funding

The U.S. Department of Energy announced $40 million in funding for 31 projects to advance research in the development of microbes as practical platforms for the production of biofuels and other bioproducts from renewable resources.

The projects will further the ongoing revolution in biology and biotechnology, and will increase our understanding of how nature’s sophisticated production capabilities at the cellular level can be harnessed to produce sustainable, clean, and efficient fuel as well as drive other industrial production processes.

In coming years, the revolution in biotechnology and bio-based production methods are expected to transform the face of industry,” said U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry. “These projects will help ensure that America continues to lead the way in developing the knowledge and expertise needed to capitalize on the many new opportunities of the emerging bioenergy fields.

Over the past decade, DOE scientists have identified and modified a wide range of microbial organisms to be production workhorses, transforming microbes into effective platforms for the generation of fuels and other useful precursor chemicals from renewable plant feedstocks.

Using today’s most advanced techniques of genomics-based systems biology, these projects seek both to improve the production capabilities of already identified organisms and to identify new organisms as potential production platforms. They will modify the organisms to maximize their effectiveness as producers.

Dr. Keith Lidke's project, Hyperspectral Light Sheet Raman Imaging of Leaf Metabolism, was one of the chosen projects. It will provide major advances for in vivo, dynamic tracking of pathways of carbon fixation in living plants. A major limitation of metabolic flux models is the ability to constrain fluxes between organelles and between cells across small spatial areas (source and sink cells in the leaf). This project will develop and test a new imaging method coupling Raman imaging with light sheet-based illumination of leaf tissues while simultaneously monitoring photosynthesis and respiration. This novel tool will permit localization and quantification of carbon-13-labeled metabolites in living plants at the microscopic level as well as directly monitor conversion of photosynthetic metabolites (low-energy sugars) into higher energy compounds that can be further converted to biofuels and bioproducts. This project is a collaboration with Sandia National Laboratories.

Projects were chosen by competitive peer review under two separate DOE Funding Opportunity Announcements, one for Systems Biology of Bioenergy-Relevant Microbes and another for Bioimaging Research for Bioenergy, both sponsored by the Office of Biological and Environmental Research within the Department’s Office of Science.

Total funding is $40 million for projects lasting three years in duration.

University of New Mexico
Department of Physics and Astronomy
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