MENGO - Microbial ENergy processes Gene Ontology Project
What is MENGO?
The MENGO project is a multi-institutional collaborative effort that aims to develop new Gene Ontology terms to describe microbial bioenergy related processes. It is funded by the DOE as part of its Systems Biology Knowledgebase program.
The Gene Ontology (GO) consortium was formed in 1998 to create universal descriptors, which can be used to describe functionally similar gene products and their attributes across all organisms. In 2010, the MENGO interest group was created to extend the GO to include terms describing various processes related to bioenergy.
The following processes important in bioenergy production are targeted by the project:
- Deconstruction of plant material - microbial gene products capable of replacing traditional thermochemical processes are of particular interest.
- Saccharification (hydrolysis of polysaccharides to sugars) - enzymes that are stable and active at higher temperatures, provide higher reaction rates and are not inhibited by the end-products are of interest.
- Solventogenic fermentation - of interest are gene products that enable simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) at high rates, confer high level tolerance for the products (e.g. isobutanol, isopentanol and isopentenol) and low sensitivity to inhibitors.
- Fermentative H2 production – of interest are gene products that confer tolerance to the commonly observed thermodynamic block imposed by H2 on the fermentative degradation of biopolymers.
- Methanogenesis – of interest are terms that help understand the consortia responsible for this process in nature, leading to improved performance and stability of consortia in a commercial setting.
- Synthesis of long chain hydrocarbons – of interest are gene products involved in fatty acid and isoprenoid biosynthesis pathways that could be used to modify biofuel synthesis pathways in feed stockplants.
- Bioconversion of lignin into fuel – gene products capable of converting lignin to its monomers or to other substrates suitable for biofuels biosynthesis are urgently needed.
All three of the GO ontologies willbe a focus of the project: biological processes, molecular functions and cellular components.
MENGO welcomes participation from the scientific community. If you have questions, comments or suggestions, please contact us.