MSI PIs Jonathan Schilling (professor, Plant and Microbial Biology) and Claudia Schmidt-Dannert (professor, Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and Biophysics) are investigating a process called “brown rot,” whereby fungi extract sugars from wood without breaking down the rigid material. A $1.5 million grant from the US Department of Energy is funding this project, which also includes researchers from Clark University (Worcester, Massachusetts), the Joint Genome Institute (Walnut Creek, California), and the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, Washington). The goal of the project is to understand the genetic source of brown rot and possibly discover how to use it for efficient, sustainable energy from plants.
An article about this project appears on the College of Biological Sciences Connect blog: Brown Rot, Green Energy.
Professor Schilling uses MSI for genetic studies of the fungi that cause brown rot. Professor Schmidt-Dannert uses MSI for two projects, one to biosynthesize natural products from plants and fungi to produce chemicals with medicinal properties, and one to engineer more efficient metabolic and biocatalytic functions and systems.