Monday, May 13, 2013

The BioEnergy Science Center reaches 500th publication

Researchers with the BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) led by Oak Ridge National Laboratory have charted 500 scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals in the center's five and half years of operation.

Among the reported discoveries toward inexpensive and reliable production of cellulosic ethanol are new approaches for engineering non-food crops for biofuel production, reengineering of microbes to produce advanced biofuels such as “green” precursors from biomass, and the development of methods to grow non-food biofuel crops on marginal lands so as not to compete with food production.

 As one of three centers in the Department of Energy’s Biological and Environmental Research (BER) Program, BESC has made substantial progress toward understanding, manipulating and managing plant cell walls' resistance to being broken down for fuel production, called recalcitrance . Many Populus and switchgrass genes that affect plant cell wall recalcitrance can now be modified and many of these genetic changes tested have resulted in improved deconstruction potential.

“Publication in the scientific literature is an important measure of success for this project and for our sponsors,” said BESC Director Paul Gilna. “This body of work is a reflection of both our team’s growing impact on the field of biofuels research and of the project’s increasing credibility within the scientific community.”

The 500th article is one in a collection of articles emphasizing BESC collaborative work in a book, part of the Wiley Series in Renewable Resources, titled ‘Aqueous Pretreatment of Plant Biomass for Biological and Chemical Conversion to Fuels and Chemicals.’ BESC researcher Dr. Charles Wyman at the University of California-Riverside is the book’s editor.

The book's 23 chapters from top researchers in the biofuel field include nine chapters by 13 current or former members of BESC.   

The specific 500th publication (chapter 19), titled ‘Xylooligosaccharides production, quantification, and characterization in context of lignocellulosic biomass pretreatment,’ is co-written by BESC authors Rajeev Kumar, Hongjia Li and Wyman from the University of California-Riverside with lead author Qing Qing, a former student who is currently an assistant professor at Pharmaceutical Engineering & Life Science at Changzhou University in China. Their study reveals important structural information about hemicellulose polysaccharides in plant cell walls and how they are altered during deconstruction to form sugars or other products.

BESC work has been featured in significant scientific journals including Nature, Science, Nature Biotechnology, PNAS and Energy and Environmental Science.  The collection of BESC publications has been cited more than 3000 times in other scientific publications.  This extensive body of work has also contributed to the success of 117 invention disclosures and 36 patent applications for BESC. 

BESC is an 18-partner consortium consisting of more than 300 members from university, industrial and private foundation associates studying ways to generate biofuels.  More than 150 of BESC’s publications have integrated collaborations among the eighteen partners of BESC, and more than 160 have included collaborators outside the center.

In the next five years, BESC researchers will focus on bringing new methods and discoveries to maturity, developing new lines of research, and accelerating the transformation of scientific breakthroughs into new technologies that can transition to the marketplace.

Visit the BESC website at for a comprehensive listing of all publications with links to the articles where available and a searchable database of available intellectual property.  

ORNL is managed by UT-Battelle for the Department of Energy's Office of Science. DOE's Office of Science is the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, and is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information, please visit

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