In Missouri, researchers at the University of Missouri College of Engineering, the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory are looking at how the shape and structure of proteins determine their function which will help produce the types of algae and other plants that will have the properties best suited for max bioenergy and biofuel production.
They use high-performance computing and deep learning methods to predict the way proteins will fold and thus what their function and properties will be. The millions of possible structures and their related functions in green algae and other plants that show high potential as biofuels are mostly unknown. This project will significantly fill that reservoir of knowledge.
Cheng’s predictions will save a great deal of time and money by keeping researchers from having to test the properties of millions of possible protein structures and instead focus on those that modeling shows have the highest likelihood of producing the greatest amount of energy.
The researchers received a U.S. Department of Energy grant through its Office of Biological and Environmental Research to the tune of $2.3 million over three years.