Date: Thursday, April 21, 2022
Time: 1:30 pm
Talk Title: Toward predictive design of bio-based materials with functional genomics
Dual-purpose technologies that supply economically viable products and mitigate anthropogenic climate change are desperately needed. In 2021, atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) levels hit a milestone – reaching a 50% increase over the pre-industrial baseline. Although CO2 absorbs less heat than other greenhouse gases, such as methane, it is more abundant, stays in the atmosphere longer, and is responsible for most of the atmospheric heating imbalance. A promising and versatile solution is to leverage the natural capabilities of microalgae and cyanobacteria. By converting solar energy into chemical energy through light-harvesting, water splitting, electron transport, and adenosine triphosphate (ATP) synthesis, these photosynthetic microbes naturally capture CO2 from the air and convert it into organic compounds. These organic compounds, in turn, are the building blocks for natural and synthetic biomaterials. Toward advancing photosynthesis-based solutions to current climate and energy challenges, genomics and functional genomics data can be used to discover genes and enzymes from diverse environmental microorganisms for deployable chemical transformations. In this presentation, we will share our work on using computational genomic approaches to facilitate the discovery of gene/protein function, generate foundational understanding of complex biological processes, and provide strategies for the design of bio-based materials.