DOE Funds SRI to Enhance Bioinformatics Tools for Renewable Energy Research
News Jan 30, 2011
SRI International, has announced it has been awarded a grant by the Department of Energy (DOE) to expand its MetaCyc database and enhance its Pathway Tools software. This project will give SRI's bioinformatics tools even greater utility in the emerging area of bioenergy, or renewable energy derived from biological sources.
SRI will expand its MetaCyc database to include energy-related metabolic pathways and enzymes associated with lignocellulosic biomass degradation, hydrogen production, and microalgae oil production. This expansion will allow the Pathway Tools software to recognize bioenergy-related pathways in sequenced microbes, resulting in more accurate metabolic pathway reconstructions, and enabling scientists to develop new ways to produce fuel and other valuable products from biomass and microorganisms.
"Expanding our use of renewable energy resources, such as biomass, is currently a major challenge facing society," said Peter Karp, Ph.D., director, Bioinformatics Research Group in the Artificial Intelligence Center at SRI. "Designing optimal new pathways for desired chemical products, such as biofuels, is a challenging problem for metabolic engineers because of the huge space of potential pathways that must be explored. This area is ripe for improved computational approaches."
Pathway Tools software will draw on data in SRI's databases to generate alternative pathways to create a target compound from specified feedstocks. SRI's software will also evaluate each pathway's utility to produce the specified target compounds, thereby allowing researchers to quickly identify and evaluate multiple pathways, design effective research protocols, and shorten development timeframes.
More than 2,000 researchers in government, academia, and industry already use SRI's bioinformatics databases and software tools to accelerate research leading to advances in biotechnology, including the development of new drugs and new routes to important chemicals.
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