They're both aspects of the efforts of the DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI). Headquartered in Walnut Creek, Calif., and supported by DOE's Office of Science, the JGI decodes the DNA of variety of critters – plants, microbes, and communities of microbes from the environment. Plants and some microbes are great at transforming sunlight and carbon dioxide into energy-rich chemical products through machines called enzymes, whose blueprints are written into the DNA code.
By studying these DNA blueprints, JGI scientists may open the door to applications to everything from renewable fuels to environmental cleanups. For instance, JGI scientists recently compared the DNA of two strains of a filamentous fungus (Aspergillus niger) whose enzymes might have a variety of uses, including building better biofuels. Filamentous fungi are better known as mold, the off-color stuff you might find in the back of your refrigerator. These fungi are already being put to work in a variety of ways, including the billion-dollar business of citric acid production. Using the fungi to break down plant matter and convert it to liquid biofuels may lead to a greener, and cleaner, environment.
That's just one aspect of JGI's efforts. In order to explain all of them in more detail, JGI partnered with partnered with the Ex'pression College for Digital Arts to produce a short video:
Take a look, to see all that JGI and the Office of Science are doing to develop solutions to shape a better future. To learn more about JGI, go to: http://www.jgi.doe.gov/. And to learn more about the Office of Science, go to: http://science.energy.gov/.