Our laboratory studies the biosynthesis of plant cell walls at the molecular, biochemical and cellular levels. During the past several years we have been working on a project related to biofuels that greatly impacts our nation's potential green energy source. In principle, the idea is to bio-convert biomass (e.g. sugars released from plant cell walls) into ethanol. The major hurdle the industry encounters is that the wall is recalcitrant and currently it is not cost effective for microbial enzymes to degrade the ‘wood’ (lingo-cellulose) into individual sugars that can be fermented to fuel.
One project involves the identification of genes involved in cell wall precursor synthesis and determines how mutations in these genes alter plants to be less recalcitrant to hydrolytic degradation. Other projects involve the development of different types of cell-based assays related to wall biosynthesis in plants and microbes.
For undergraduate research opportunities, please contact Dr. Bar-Peled (email@example.com)