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DOE publishes roadmap for new biological research for energy and environmental needs

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The Department of Energy (DOE) today issued a comprehensive plan for a new generation of biology research that builds on genome project investments to help solve national energy and environmental challenges. Microbial enzymes could, for example, be used to improve the manufacture of ethanol from cellulose by replacing the inefficient and expensive processes used today. They could enable smaller-scale and more cost-effective and energy-efficient distributed processing plants that could make ethanol cost competitive with oil-based gasoline. Thousands of microbial species have biochemical processes that are of potential use for this and other applications.

The Genomics: GTL Roadmap: Systems Biology for Energy and Environment outlines a plan to explore the unseen world of microbes--starting with information encoded in their DNA sequences--to produce the new science needed for achieving cleaner and more secure energy resources, remediating toxic wastes and understanding the natural roles microbes play in the global climate.

"Much as the Human Genome Project stimulated the growth of a biomedical biotechnology industry, the research laid out in this roadmap will spur growth in a new industrial biotechnology sector," Secretary of Energy Samuel W. Bodman said. "Microbes can be used for processes and products that can serve as an engine for economic competitiveness in the 21st century."

The roadmap traces the path from national energy and environmental needs to the scientific progress that should be pursued with the benefit of emerging technologies, integrated computing and a new research infrastructure. The new plan was formulated over the last three years with the expertise of nearly 800 scientists and technology experts and is now being reviewed and refined at the National Academy of Sciences.

Microbial discoveries are changing scientists' view of the origins, limits and capabilities of life. As a result of t
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Contact: Jeff Sherwood
jeff.sherwood@hq.doe.gov
202-586-4826
DOE/US Department of Energy
3-Oct-2005


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