Timothy J Tschaplinski

Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, Florida, United States

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Publications (75)479.37 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Eucalypts are the world’s most widely planted hardwood trees. Their outstanding diversity, adaptability and growth have made them a global renewable resource of fibre and energy. We sequenced and assembled >94% of the 640-megabase genome of Eucalyptus grandis. Of 36,376 predicted protein-coding genes, 34% occur in tandem duplications, the largest proportion thus far in plant genomes. Eucalyptus also shows the highest diversity of genes for specialized metabolites such as terpenes that act as chemical defence and provide unique pharmaceutical oils. Genome sequencing of the E. grandis sister species E. globulus and a set of inbred E. grandis tree genomes reveals dynamic genome evolution and hotspots of inbreeding depression. The E. grandis genome is the first reference for the eudicot order Myrtales and is placed here sister to the eurosids. This resource expands our understanding of the unique biology of large woody perennials and provides a powerful tool to accelerate comparative biology, breeding and biotechnology.
    Nature 06/2014; · 38.60 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Research and development activities directed toward commercial production of cellulosic ethanol have created the opportunity to dramatically increase the transformation of lignin to value-added products. Here, we highlight recent advances in this lignin valorization effort. Discovery of genetic variants in native populations of bioenergy crops and direct manipulation of biosynthesis pathways have produced lignin feedstocks with favorable properties for recovery and downstream conversion. Advances in analytical chemistry and computational modeling detail the structure of the modified lignin and direct bioengineering strategies for future targeted properties. Refinement of biomass pretreatment technologies has further facilitated lignin recovery, and this coupled with genetic engineering will enable new uses for this biopolymer, including low-cost carbon fibers, engineered plastics and thermoplastic elastomers, polymeric foams, fungible fuels, and commodity chemicals.
    Science 05/2014; 344(6185):1246843. · 31.20 Impact Factor
  • Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 03/2014; 33(2-3):205-224. · 4.36 Impact Factor
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    Critical Reviews in Plant Sciences 03/2014; 33(2-3):205-224. · 4.36 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Climatic extremes threaten agricultural sustainability worldwide. One approach to increase plant water- use efficiency (WUE) is to introduce crassulacean acid metabolism (CAM) into C3 crops. Such a task requires comprehensive systems-level understanding of the enzymatic and regulatory pathways underpinning this temporal CO2 pump. Here we review the progress that has been made in achieving this goal. Given that CAM arose through multiple independent evolutionary ori- gins, comparative transcriptomics and genomics of taxonomically diverse CAM species are being used to define the genetic ‘parts list’ required to operate the core CAM functional modules of nocturnal carboxylation, diurnal decarboxylation, and inverse stomatal regulation. Engi- neered CAM offers the potential to sustain plant productivity for food, feed, fiber, and biofuel production in hotter and drier climates.
    Trends in Plant Science 02/2014; 19(6). · 11.81 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Clostridium cellulolyticum can degrade lignocellulosic biomass, and ferment the soluble sugars to produce valuable chemicals such as lactate, acetate, ethanol and hydrogen. However, the cellulose utilization efficiency of C. cellulolyticum still remains very low, impeding its application in consolidated bioprocessing for biofuels production. In this study, two metabolic engineering strategies were exploited to improve cellulose utilization efficiency, including sporulation abolishment and carbon overload alleviation. The spo0A gene at locus Ccel_1894, which encodes a master sporulation regulator was inactivated. The spo0A mutant abolished the sporulation ability. In a high concentration of cellulose (50 g/l), the performance of the spo0A mutant increased dramatically in terms of maximum growth, final concentrations of three major metabolic products, and cellulose catabolism. The microarray and gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) analyses showed that the valine, leucine and isoleucine biosynthesis pathways were up-regulated in the spo0A mutant. Based on this information, a partial isobutanol producing pathway modified from valine biosynthesis was introduced into C. cellulolyticum strains to further increase cellulose consumption by alleviating excessive carbon load. The introduction of this synthetic pathway to the wild-type strain improved cellulose consumption from 17.6 g/l to 28.7 g/l with a production of 0.42 g/l isobutanol in the 50 g/l cellulose medium. However, the spo0A mutant strain did not appreciably benefit from introduction of this synthetic pathway and the cellulose utilization efficiency did not further increase. A technical highlight in this study was that an in vivo promoter strength evaluation protocol was developed using anaerobic fluorescent protein and flow cytometry for C. cellulolyticum. In this study, we inactivated the spo0A gene and introduced a heterologous synthetic pathway to manipulate the stress response to heavy carbon load and accumulation of metabolic products. These findings provide new perspectives to enhance the ability of cellulolytic bacteria to produce biofuels and biocommodities with high efficiency and at low cost directly from lignocellulosic biomass.
    Biotechnology for Biofuels 02/2014; 7(1):25. · 5.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Within boreal and temperate forest ecosystems the majority of trees and shrubs form beneficial relationships with mutualistic ectomycorrhizal fungi (ECM) that support plant health through increased access to nutrients as well as aiding in stress and pest tolerance. The intimate interaction between fungal hyphae and plant roots result in a new symbiotic 'organ' called the ECM root tip. Little is understood concerning the metabolic re-programming that favors the formation of this hybrid tissue in compatible interactions and what prevents the formation of ECM root tips in incompatible interactions. We show here that the metabolic changes during favorable colonization between the ECM fungus Laccaria bicolor and its compatible host, Populus trichocarpa, are characterized by shifts in aromatic acid, organic acid, and fatty acid metabolism. We demonstrate that this extensive metabolic re-programming is repressed in incompatible interactions and that more defensive compounds are produced or retained. We also demonstrate that L. bicolor can metabolize a number of secreted defensive compounds and that the degradation of some of these compounds produce immune response metabolites (e.g., salicylic acid from salicin). Therefore, our results suggest that the metabolic responsiveness of plant roots to L. bicolor is a determinant factor in fungal:host interactions.
    Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions 02/2014; · 4.31 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Loss of function of the gene encoding pinoresinol reductase 1, which is co-expressed with cell wall biosynthetic genes in Arabidopsis thaliana, not only impairs accumulation of lignans in stem tissue, but also alters lignin structure and reduces accumulation of lignin, particularly in interfascicular fibers.
    Phytochemistry 01/2014; · 3.05 Impact Factor
  • Plant Science. 01/2014;
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    ABSTRACT: The thermophilic anaerobe Clostridium thermocellum is a candidate consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) biocatalyst for cellulosic ethanol production. The aim of this study was to investigate C. thermocellum genes required to ferment biomass substrates and to conduct a robust comparison of DNA microarray and RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) analytical platforms. C. thermocellum ATCC 27405 fermentations were conducted with a 5 g/L solid substrate loading of either pretreated switchgrass or Populus. Quantitative saccharification and inductively coupled plasma emission spectroscopy (ICP-ES) for elemental analysis revealed composition differences between biomass substrates, which may have influenced growth and transcriptomic profiles. High quality RNA was prepared for C. thermocellum grown on solid substrates and transcriptome profiles were obtained for two time points during active growth (12 hours and 37 hours postinoculation). A comparison of two transcriptomic analytical techniques, microarray and RNA-seq, was performed and the data analyzed for statistical significance. Large expression differences for cellulosomal genes were not observed. We updated gene predictions for the strain and a small novel gene, Cthe_3383, with a putative AgrD peptide quorum sensing function was among the most highly expressed genes. RNA-seq data also supported different small regulatory RNA predictions over others. The DNA microarray gave a greater number (2,351) of significant genes relative to RNA-seq (280 genes when normalized by the kernel density mean of M component (KDMM) method) in an analysis of variance (ANOVA) testing method with a 5 % false discovery rate (FDR). When a 2-fold difference in expression threshold was applied, 73 genes were significantly differentially expressed in common between the two techniques. Sulfate and phosphate uptake/utilization genes, along with genes for a putative efflux pump system were some of the most differentially regulated transcripts when profiles for C. thermocellum grown on either pretreated switchgrass or Populus were compared. Our results suggest that a high degree of agreement in differential gene expression measurements between transcriptomic platforms is possible, but choosing an appropriate normalization regime is essential.
    Biotechnology for Biofuels 12/2013; 6(1):179. · 5.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Effective enzymatic hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass benefits from lignin removal, relocation, and/or modification during hydrothermal pretreatment. Phase transition, depolymerization/repolymerization, and solubility effects may all influence these lignin changes. To better understand how lignin is altered, Populus trichocarpa x P. deltoides wood samples and cellulolytic enzyme lignin (CEL) isolated from P. trichocarpa x P. deltoides were subjected to batch and flowthrough pretreatments. The residual solids and liquid hydrolysate were characterized by gel permeation chromatography, heteronuclear single quantum coherence NMR, compositional analysis, and gas chromatography--mass spectrometry. Changes in the structure of the solids recovered after the pretreatment of CEL and the production of aromatic monomers point strongly to depolymerization and condensation being primary mechanisms for lignin extraction and redeposition. The differences in lignin removal and phenolic compound production from native P. trichocarpa x P. deltoides and CEL suggested that lignin-carbohydrate interactions increased lignin extraction and the extractability of syringyl groups relative to guaiacyl groups. These insights into delignification during hydrothermal pretreatment point to desirable pretreatment strategies and plant modifications. Because depolymerization followed by repolymerization appears to be the dominant mode of lignin modification, limiting the residence time of depolymerized lignin moieties in the bulk liquid phase should reduce lignin content in pretreated biomass. In addition, the increase in lignin removal in the presence of polysaccharides suggests that increasing lignin-carbohydrate cross-links in biomass would increase delignification during pretreatment.
    Biotechnology for Biofuels 08/2013; 6(1):110. · 5.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Background Zymomonas mobilis ZM4 is a capable ethanologenic bacterium with high ethanol productivity and ethanol tolerance. Previous studies indicated that several stress-related proteins and changes in the ZM4 membrane lipid composition may contribute to ethanol tolerance. However, the molecular mechanisms of its ethanol stress response have not been elucidated fully. Methodology/Principal Findings In this study, ethanol stress responses were investigated using systems biology approaches. Medium supplementation with an initial 47 g/L (6% v/v) ethanol reduced Z. mobilis ZM4 glucose consumption, growth rate and ethanol productivity compared to that of untreated controls. A proteomic analysis of early exponential growth identified about one thousand proteins, or approximately 55% of the predicted ZM4 proteome. Proteins related to metabolism and stress response such as chaperones and key regulators were more abundant in
    PLoS ONE 07/2013; 8(7):e68886. · 3.73 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Methyl jasmonate is a metabolite known to be produced by many plants and has roles in diverse biological processes. It is biosynthesized by the action of S-adenosyl-l-methionine:jasmonic acid carboxyl methyltransferase (JMT), which belongs to the SABATH family of methyltransferases. Herein is reported the isolation and biochemical characterization of a JMT gene from black cottonwood (Populus trichocarpa). The genome of P. trichocarpa contains 28 SABATH genes (PtSABATH1 to PtSABATH28). Recombinant PtSABATH3 expressed in Escherichia coli showed the highest level of activity with jasmonic acid (JA) among carboxylic acids tested. It was therefore renamed PtJMT1. PtJMT1 also displayed activity with benzoic acid (BA), with which the activity was about 22% of that with JA. PtSABATH2 and PtSABATH4 were most similar to PtJMT1 among all PtSABATHs. However, neither of them had activity with JA. The apparent Km values of PtJMT1 using JA and BA as substrate were 175μM and 341μM, respectively. Mutation of Ser-153 and Asn-361, two residues in the active site of PtJMT1, to Tyr and Ser respectively, led to higher specific activity with BA than with JA. Homology-based structural modeling indicated that substrate alignment, in which Asn-361 is involved, plays a role in determining the substrate specificity of PtJMT1. In the leaves of young seedlings of black cottonwood, the expression of PtJMT1 was induced by plant defense signal molecules methyl jasmonate and salicylic acid and a fungal elicitor alamethicin, suggesting that PtJMT1 may have a role in plant defense against biotic stresses. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that PtJMT1 shares a common ancestor with the Arabidopsis JMT, and functional divergence of these two apparent JMT orthologs has occurred since the split of poplar and Arabidopsis lineages.
    Phytochemistry 07/2013; · 3.05 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The three major components of plant biomass, cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin, are highly recalcitrant and deconstruction involves thermal and chemical pretreatment. Microbial conversion is a possible solution, but few anaerobic microbes utilize both cellulose and hemicellulose and none are known to solubilize lignin. Herein, we show that the majority (85%) of insoluble switchgrass biomass that had not been previously chemically treated was degraded at 78 °C by the anaerobic bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor bescii. Remarkably, the glucose/xylose/lignin ratio and physical and spectroscopic properties of the remaining insoluble switchgrass were not significantly different than those of the untreated plant material. C. bescii is therefore able to solubilize lignin as well as the carbohydrates and, accordingly, lignin-derived aromatics were detected in the culture supernatants. From mass balance analyses, the carbohydrate in the solubilized switchgrass quantitatively accounted for the growth of C. bescii and its fermentation products, indicating that the lignin was not assimilated by the microorganism. Immunoanalyses of biomass and transcriptional analyses of C. bescii showed that the microorganism when grown on switchgrass produces enzymes directed at key plant cell wall moieties such as pectin, xyloglucans and rhamnogalacturonans, and that these and as yet uncharacterized enzymes enable the degradation of cellulose, hemicellulose and lignin at comparable rates. This unexpected finding of simultaneous lignin and carbohydrate solubilization bodes well for industrial conversion by extremely thermophilic microbes of biomass that requires limited or, more importantly, no chemical pretreatment.
    Energy & Environmental Science 05/2013; · 11.65 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Lignocellulosic biomass is one of the most promising renewable and clean energy resources to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and dependence on fossil fuels. However, the resistance to accessibility of sugars embedded in plant cell walls (so-called recalcitrance) is a major barrier to economically viable cellulosic ethanol production. A recent report from the US National Academy of Sciences indicated that, "absent technological breakthroughs", it was unlikely that the US would meet the congressionally mandated renewable fuel standard of 35 billion gallons of ethanol-equivalent biofuels plus 1 billion gallons of biodiesel by 2022. We here describe the properties of switchgrass (Panicum virgatum) biomass that has been genetically engineered to increase the cellulosic ethanol yield by more than 2-fold. RESULTS: We have increased the cellulosic ethanol yield from switchgrass by 2.6-fold through overexpression of the transcription factor PvMYB4. This strategy reduces carbon deposition into lignin and phenolic fermentation inhibitors while maintaining the availability of potentially fermentable soluble sugars and pectic polysaccharides. Detailed biomass characterization analyses revealed that the levels and nature of phenolic acids embedded in the cell-wall, the lignin content and polymer size, lignin internal linkage levels, linkages between lignin and xylans/pectins, and levels of wall-bound fucose are all altered in PvMYB4-OX lines. Genetically engineered PvMYB4-OX switchgrass therefore provides a novel system for further understanding cell wall recalcitrance. CONCLUSIONS: Our results have demonstrated that overexpression of PvMYB4, a general transcriptional repressor of the phenylpropanoid/lignin biosynthesis pathway, can lead to very high yield ethanol production through dramatic reduction of recalcitrance. MYB4-OX switchgrass is an excellent model system for understanding recalcitrance, and provides new germplasm for developing switchgrass cultivars as biomass feedstocks for biofuel production.
    Biotechnology for Biofuels 05/2013; 6(1):71. · 5.55 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Using activation tagging in Populus, we have identified five mutant lines showing changes in their adventitious rooting. Among the affected lines, three showed increased and two decreased adventitious rooting. We have positioned the tag in the mutant lines via recovering genomic sequences flanking the left-hand border of the activation tagging vector and validated the transcriptional activation of the proximal genes. We further characterized one line in which the cause of the observed rooting phenotype was up-regulation of a gene encoding a transcription factor of the AP2/ERF family of unknown function (PtaERF003). We show, through retransformation, that this gene has a positive effect on both adventitious and lateral root proliferation. Comparative expression analyses show that the phenotype does not result from ectopic expression but rather up-regulation of the native expression pattern of the gene. PtaERF003 function is linked to auxin signal transduction pathway, as suggested by the rapid induction and accentuated phenotypes of the transgenic plants in presence of the hormone. Upregulation of PtaERF003 led to most significant metabolic changes in the shoot suggesting of a broader regulatory role of the gene that is not restricted to root growth and development. Our study shows that dominant tagging approaches in poplar can successfully identify novel molecular factors controlling adventitious and lateral root formation in woody plants. Such discoveries can lead to technologies that can increase root proliferation and, thus, have significant economic and environmental benefits.
    Planta 05/2013; · 3.35 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Clostridium thermocellum is a thermophilic, cellulolytic anaerobe that is a candidate microorganism for industrial biofuels production. Strains with mutations in genes associated with production of L-lactate (Δldh) and/or acetate (Δpta) were characterized to gain insight into the intracellular processes that convert cellobiose to ethanol and other fermentation end-products. Cellobiose-grown cultures of the Δldh strain had identical biomass accumulation, fermentation end-products, transcription profile, and intracellular metabolite concentrations compared to its parent strain (DSM1313 Δhpt Δspo0A). The Δpta-deficient strain grew slower and had 30 % lower final biomass concentration compared to the parent strain, yet produced 75 % more ethanol. A Δldh Δpta double-mutant strain evolved for faster growth had a growth rate and ethanol yield comparable to the parent strain, whereas its biomass accumulation was comparable to Δpta. Free amino acids were secreted by all examined strains, with both Δpta strains secreting higher amounts of alanine, valine, isoleucine, proline, glutamine, and threonine. Valine concentration for Δldh Δpta reached 5 mM by the end of growth, or 2.7 % of the substrate carbon utilized. These secreted amino acid concentrations correlate with increased intracellular pyruvate concentrations, up to sixfold in the Δpta and 16-fold in the Δldh Δpta strain. We hypothesize that the deletions in fermentation end-product pathways result in an intracellular redox imbalance, which the organism attempts to relieve, in part by recycling NADP(+) through increased production of amino acids.
    Journal of Industrial Microbiology 05/2013; · 1.80 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Traits related to biomass production were analyzed for the presence of quantitative trait loci (QTLs) in a Populus trichocarpa × P. deltoides F(2) population. A genetic linkage map composed of 841 SSR, AFLP, and RAPD markers and phenotypic data from 310 progeny were used to identify genomic regions harboring biomass QTLs. Twelve intervals were identified, of which BM-1, BM-2, and BM-7 were identified in all three years for both height and diameter. One putative QTL, BM-7, and one suggestive QTL exhibited significant evidence of over-dominance in all three years for both traits. Conversely, QTLs BM-4 and BM-6 exhibited evidence of under-dominance in both environments for height and diameter. Seven of the nine QTLs were successfully anchored, and QTL peak positions were estimated for each one on the P. trichocarpa genome assembly using flanking SSR markers with known physical positions. Of the 3,031 genes located in genome-anchored QTL intervals, 1,892 had PFAM annotations. Of these, 1,313, representing 255 unique annotations, had at least one duplicate copy in a QTL interval identified on a separate scaffold. This observation suggests that some QTLs identified in this study may have shared the same ancestral sequence prior to the salicoid genome duplication in Populus.
    PLoS ONE 01/2013; 8(1):e54468. · 3.73 Impact Factor
  • Biotechnology for Biofuels 01/2013; 6:110. · 5.55 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

2k Citations
479.37 Total Impact Points


  • 1998–2014
    • Oak Ridge National Laboratory
      • • Biosciences Division
      • • Environmental Sciences Division
      Oak Ridge, Florida, United States
  • 2009–2013
    • University of Tennessee
      • Department of Plant Sciences
      Knoxville, TN, United States
    • West Virginia University
      • Department of Biology
      Morgantown, WV, United States
    • University of Georgia
      • Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
      Athens, GA, United States
  • 2006
    • Georgia Institute of Technology
      • School of Chemistry and Biochemistry
      Atlanta, GA, United States
    • University of Toronto
      • Faculty of Forestry
      Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • 2002
    • Colorado State University
      • Bioagricultural Sciences and Pest Management
      Fort Collins, CO, United States