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IU biologist receives Department of Energy's top young faculty award
Date:7/26/2012

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"We're taking a lesson from nature that multiple microbial species help each other to thrive on food sources such as plant residues that those same species could not use if on their own," he said. "We already know that mixtures of specialized microbes can sometimes outperform a single engineered strain for producing chemicals of value to society."

The idea is to develop a co-culture of a photosynthetic bacteria and a fermentative microbe that uses sugar and energy from sunlight to produce hydrogen gas. The idea was first attempted by other researchers about 30 years ago, but obtaining a stable relationship between the two species has persisted as a major obstacle. McKinlay has addressed this obstacle, imposing a strategy that ensures that the two microbes can maintain a long-term cooperative relationship. This approach paves the way for experiments that could not otherwise be done and will ideally lead to a road-map for devising strategies to enhance biofuel production.

Before coming to IU in 2011, McKinlay most recently was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Washington. He earned a Ph.D. from Michigan State University in 2006 and earlier this year was one of two junior faculty members from IU to receive a Ralph E. Powe Junior Faculty Enhancement Award from Oak Ridge Associated Universities, a consortium of universities in strategic partnerships with Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


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Contact: Steve Chaplin
stjchap@iu.edu
812-856-1896
Indiana University
Source:Eurekalert  

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