Hutcheson, Steven W.
Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics
College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences
Research Interests include: Genetics, genomics and transcriptomics of carbohydrate degradation in bacteria.
Lignocellulosic biomass is mostly composed of carbohydrate polymers that can be degraded to their constituent sugars if cost effective means can be developed. These sugars or sugar derivatives can then be turned into various fuels and other specialty chemicals through fermentation. The saprophytic marine bacterium Saccharophagus degradans is capable of enzymatically releasing sugars from many complex polysaccharides using unique mechanisms. This bacterium is from the Chesapeake Bay and has multiple unusual carbohydrase systems and the accompanying genetic systems. Thus this bacterium is a repository for unique enzymes and mechanisms for processing complex polysaccharides. We are studying the novelties of several of the carbohydrase systems produced by this bacterium that are most applicable to biofuel production.