Back to top

Genomics of Artificial Photosynthesis

Project Advisor
Professor Buz Barstow - bmb35@cornell.edu

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

Project Description
Biology gives a first draft template for capturing and storing the power of the Sun at planetary scale with zero or even negative cost, from Earth abundant elements, and with no human intervention. However, the efficiency of natural photosynthesis is incredibly low (? 0.1%). This means that energy crops have to compete with land for wilderness, and land for agriculture. Electroactive microbes provide the tools to merge the efficiency of solar electricity with the flexibility and efficiency of biological metabolism. However, very little is known about the genomics of these microbes. We are seeking students to help us characterize the genomes of electroactive microbes with Knockout Sudoku, a new technology developed by my team for rapid, ultra-low-cost gene discovery. We aim to find genomic control points in these microbes that will enable engineering through targeted whole genome evolution; and to discover new parts for de novo organisms made through chemical synthesis.

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