Kyria Boundy-Mills (Food Science and Technology), Tina Jeoh (Biological and Agricultural Engineering) and Peter Hernes (Land, Air and Water Resources) received a $500,000, 2-year award from USDA-AFRI Sustainable Bioenergy and Bioproducts challenge area. The objectives of this funding program were to develop novel technologies to convert the lignin or nanocellulose fractions of lignocellulose to value-added materials. This project takes advantage of highly specialized UC Davis expertise in lignocellulose processing, lignin analysis, and the 1,000+ yeast species available for research in the Phaff Yeast Culture Collection.
The team is working with several stakeholders who are providing agricultural and food processing residues including sorghum, wheat germ and bran, and almond shells, hulls and prunings. Tina Jeoh's lab will develop methods to fractionate the plant materials into a soluble stream containing lignin monomers and hemicellulose sugars that yeasts can consume. Additionally, the Jeoh Lab will utilize the insoluble nanocellulose fraction to further advance a UC Davis patented microencapsulation technology. Peter Hernes' lab will focus on depolymerizing the lignin fraction and identifying the lignin monomers and oligomers. Kyria Boundy-Mills' lab will identify yeasts that can consume the sugars and lignin monomers in the processed plant material, and produce valuable products: oils and glycolipids. Yeast oils have potential for use as fuels, chemicals, and food and feed ingredients, and the glycolipids are natural surfactants with detergent, emulsifier, and anti-foam activity.
Congratulations to all!