New Energy Frontier Research Center Create Sustainable Future Through Bacteria

Michigan State University is now home to one of the nation’s newest Energy Frontier Research Centers. Led by Cheryl Kerfeld, a Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and the MSU-DOE Plant Research Laboratory is focused on building ‘nanofactories’ inspired by natural processes found in bacterial microcompartments. These bacterial compartments house specific biochemical functions in an insulated environment. In that compartment, bacteria can accumulate reactants used by catalysts, causing biochemical reactions to be efficient.

The Center, dubbed the Center for Catalysis in Biomimetic Confinement (CCBC), is one of 43 research centers announced by the Department of Energy and has received $10.65 million in support from the US Department of Energy. The CCBC’s focus will be to explore how nature compartmentalizes some of its most critical biochemical reactions. Researchers at the CCBC hope to understand how bacteria build these chambers and learn to mimic the bacteria’s methods to develop new and more efficient ways to produce essential chemicals and molecules for sustainable fuels, fertilizers, and other products.

To learn more about bacterial microcompartments, the CCBC, and the research conducted here at MSU, click here.

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