Dr. Hans Bernstein, a Linus Pauling Fellow at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and his colleagues at Montana State University have reconciled traditional process engineering principles with ecological theories to help guide the future of microbial community engineering. They laid out their approach in Chapter 15 of Biotechnology for Biofuel Production and Optimization, published by Elsevier.
In mixed populations of microbes, some bacteria, the "cooperators," dominate over others, the "cheaters." Cheaters use resources cooperators make and share, and the community suffers from depleted common resources. In Science, PNNL Laboratory Fellow Jim Fredrickson took on the tragedy of the commons in microbial communities. Understanding how microbes interact could help scientists design synthetic communities for use in biotechnology, turning tragedy into progress.
Catalysts made from oxides of vanadium, a relatively plentiful and inexpensive metal, could last longer than other catalysts and speed up manufacturing processes-especially if scientists can learn more about how they function. In this study, scientists visualized and identified the most active individual sites on the surface of supported vanadium oxide catalysts.
Jim De Yoreo, Janet Jansson and Yong Wang at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory have been selected to join the Washington State Academy of Sciences. These three scientists will join others being recognized for outstanding scientific achievement and leadership. As academy members, they will provide expert analysis to inform public policy-making, and work to increase the role and visibility of science in Washington state.
PNNL scientists have directed a common bacterium to produce more of a valuable fatty acid, lauric acid, than it typically does. The achievement is noteworthy not simply because of the increased production of fatty acid, which can be a useful component of biofuels, but it also opens the door for scientists to manipulate such organisms to produce compounds useful as fuels or medicines.
About The Division
Scientists within the Biological Sciences Division perform biological systems science research and develop technologies focused on how cells, cell communities, and organisms sense and respond to their environment. Our vision is to measure, predict, design, and control multi-cellular biological systems and bio-inspired solutions for energy, environment, and health.
Our investigator-initiated and multi-institutional collaborative research, unique scientific instrumentation, and national program leadership translate the latest scientific discoveries into technologies that are beneficial to the nation.
Our research has applications to energy, environment, and human health missions of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other federal agencies.