Thursday, July 14, 2011

No Eureka Moments in Long U.S. Campaign to Crack Cellulosic Code

From a series of low-slung buildings in Walnut Creek, Calif., east of Oakland and nestled at the base of Mount Diablo, the Department of Energy's Joint Genome Institute (JGI), fresh from sequencing the human genome, has pursued for the past half-decade the DNA of microbes known to unwind these barbed wires. Marshaling these genetic resources is one of the institute's top priorities, on parallel with its cancer research. It may sound strange, but the cellulose work is like Lewis Caroll's "Through the Looking-Glass," said Eddy Rubin, JGI's director and Hess' former boss. At one point, Alice hustles after the Red Queen, but she never gains any ground. Likewise, plants have kept their lead over all comers, Rubin said. More>