Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry
Utah State University
Research Programs in Nitrogenase Mechanism and Microbial Fuels
Research in the group focuses on elucidating mechanism of enzymes involved in nitrogen fixation and microbial fuel production. Nitrogenase is the enzyme responsible for biological nitrogen fixation, the reduction of dinitrogen to ammonia, a critical step in the global nitrogen cycle.
N2 + 8e- + 8H+ + 16MgATP → 2NH3 +H2 + 16MgADP + 16Pi
Our current research focus is on elucidating how ATP hydrolysis is coupled to substrate reduction, how electrons are delivered for substrate reduction, and defining the reaction pathway for dinitrogen reduction. Approaches used include genetics, protein biochemistry, kinetics, and spectroscopy including EPR and ENDOR.
A second research program is focused on developing microbial systems to produce feedstock compounds that can be developed into renewable biofuels. Microalgae, bacteria, and yeast platforms are being developed that produce high yields of lipids, which are feedstocks for biodiesel and bio jet fuels.