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Genomics of Advanced Biofuel Production

Project Advisor
Professor Buz Barstow - bmb35@cornell.edu

Project Area/Concentration
intersection of energy and synthetic biology, background in systems, synthetic or molecular biology; chemistry; electrical or computer engineering; or physics

Project Description
Recent advances in cellulose degradation have yielded dramatic increases in the availability of feedstocks for carbon neutral biofuels. However, the low energy density and poor distribution infrastructure compatibility limits the amount of gasoline that can be displaced by first generation biofuels like ethanol to only ? 10%. This problem is even more acute in aviation where fuel energy density and safety requirements are even more stringent. Unfortunately, the dominant microorganism used for biofuel production, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, is limited in its ability to produce fuels other than ethanol. The oil-producing yeast Yarrowia lipolytica is one of the most promising microorganisms for the sustainable production of advanced biofuels, including gasoline, diesel, and jet fuel. We are using our new technology for gene characterization, Knockout Sudoku, to build a knockout collection for Y. lipolytica and with this learn how to tailor it for advanced biofuel production.

Possible Courses

Course number Course title
AEP 4210 Mathematical Physics I
AEP 4220 Mathematical Physics II
BEE 3600 Molecular and Cellular Bioengineering
BME 6130 Engineering the Microbiome