Colorado researchers win grant for bioenergy crop engineering

By Colorado State University | December 07, 2012

A Colorado State University team has received a $2 million grant from the U.S. DOE to produce a biological control system for bioenergy crops.

June Medford and Mauricio Antunes, both professors in the biology department, and Ashok Prasad, a professor in chemical and biological engineering, received the grant from Advanced Research Projects Agency—Energy, known as ARPA-E, which is the DOE’s advanced research division.

The rising costs of petroleum, combined with its projected shortage in the next few decades, have generated an ever increasing demand for production of fuels from biological sources, or biofuels, Medford said. By 2020, it is estimated that the global market for biofuels trade could reach $520 billion.

“It is imperative that the nation maintain a leadership position in production of alternative fuels and in generating the needed raw material (feedstock) for the biofuels industry,” Medford said. “Substantial improvement to traditional and nontraditional bioenergy crops will come through precise engineering of traits of interest. A key limitation or bottleneck for these bioenergy crop improvements is the ability to rapidly introduce new traits via genetic transformation.”

The CSU team is experts in synthetic biology, particularly that of plants. Their work was chosen from more than 4,000 submissions and is viewed as transformational to the field of bioenergy.

Antunes said the work will develop technology that allows rapid and precise improvement of bioenergy crops.

“While our work has specific near-term goals for bioenergy crops, our regulatory genetic circuits could also find application for biofuels, biomanufacturing and bioengineering, allowing the U.S. to retain technological lead in renewable energy,” Medford said.




1 Responses

  1. Jonjon



    Searchinger's debate ptanrer agreed that we need this fix: I can state without qualification that I agree with the premise of Tim's recent article that there is a major flaw in current and proposed accounting systems for carbon. Electric cars are a case of which comes first, the chicken or the egg? Should we wait for low carbon electricity before building electric cars, and will electric cars create a demand for low carbon electricity? It is a moot point because, from a global warming perspective, if we don't get rid of coal, it won't matter what you drive. whether his models can show They are not all his models. Attempts to single out and make an example out of one researcher by publicly denigrating him is starting to backfire. This isn't a one man show, not by any stretch of the imagination: ..Roughly a dozen major scientific assessments have now noted that because any use of productive land to produce biofuels has a high risk of creating large emissions through land-use change, we shouldn't be pursuing that route. Among these studies are those by our National Academy of Sciences, SCOPE, a special U.K. government review of biofuels called the Gallagher Report, Dutch reviews, and studies by the Joint Research Centre of the European Union.


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