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Janet Westpheling

Blurred image of the arch used as background for stylistic purposes.
Ph.D. (1980) John Innes Institute, Norwich, England
  • 2015 Creative Research Medal
  • Member, National Research Council Committee on the Development and Acquisition of Medical Countermeasures Against Biological Warfare Agents, 2005
  • Editorial Board, Biotechnology for Biofuels
  • Creative Research Medal, University of Georgia, 2000
  • Chair, Gordon Research Conference on Microbial Stress Response, 1996
  • Lilly Teaching Fellow, 1992-1993
  • Grant Support -
    • "Development of Anaerobic Thermophilic Genetic Systems," DOE.
    • "DOE Bioenergy Science Center: Education," DOE
  • Research Interests -
    • The rate-limiting step in the conversion of lignocellulosic biomass from crop plants such as Poplar or Switchgrass to biofuels, such as ethanol and biomaterials is the recalcitrance of these complex substrates. A critical component of the development of bio-based alternative fuels, such as ethanol and hydrogen, is the identification, characterization and manipulation of microorganisms and biocatalysts for biomass conversion. Organisms and enzymes that can function at high temperature, 80-100 C are especially useful for this conversion because the biomass material is typically pretreated at high temperature before microbial or enzymatic conversion. Although the pursuit of biological routes to alternative fuels has been ongoing for several decades, recently available genomics-based approaches offer unprecedented access to novel enzymes and pathways for biomass conversions, making rational, genome-wide approaches for biocatalyst discovery and pathway identification that lead to enzyme production and metabolic engineering possible. An essential component of the application of modern technology to microbial and enzymatic biomass conversion is the ability to genetically manipulate extreme thermophilic microbes and the enzymes they produce. The focus of our research is to use functional and structural genomics-based methods, in conjunction with classical genetics and biochemical approaches, to identify novel biocatalytic (purified enzymes) and metabolic strategies (using whole cells) for bioenergy conversion. We have developed genetic tools for manipulation of Pyrococcus furiosus, a hyperthermophilic fermentative anaerobic archaean that produces hydrogen at or above temperatures of 100 C and Caldicellulosiruptor species, thermophilic, anaerobic Gram-positive bacterium, unique in its ability to efficiently utilize untreated cellulosic biomass. This work fits into the larger intellectual context of using classical (high temperature microbial bioprocessing, large-scale protein purification) and modern (structural genomics, bioinformatics, transcriptional response analysis, gene replacement/mutational analysis) approaches to study extremophile biology and biotechnology as this relates to bioenergy conversion.
Selected Publications:
  • Expression of a Heat-stable NADPH-dependent Alcohol Dehydrogenase from Thermoanaerobacter pseudethanolicus 39E in Clostridium thermocellum 1313 Results in Increased Furfural and HMF Resistance (2017) Sun-Ki Kim, Joseph Groom, Daehwan Chung, James Elkins, and Janet Westpheling Biotechnology for Biofuels, 10:66, DOI 10.1186/s13068-017-0750-z
  • Engineering the N-terminal End of CelA Results in Improved Performance and Growth of Caldicellulosiruptor bescii on Crystalline Cellulose (2016) Sun-Ki Kim, Daehwan Chung, Michael E. Himmel, Yannick J. Bomble, and Janet WestphelingBiotechnology and BioEngineering, doi: 10.1002/bit.26242
  • Heterologous Expression of Family 10 Xylanases from Acidothermus cellulolyticus Enhances the Exoproteome of Caldicellulosiruptor bescii and Growth on Xylan Substrates (2016) Sun-Ki Kim, Daehwan Chung, Michael E. Himmel, Yannick J. Bomble, and Janet Westpheling Biotechnology for Biofuels, 9:176 DOI 10.1186/s13068-016-0588-9.
  • Promiscuous Plasmid Replication in Thermophiles: Use for Genetic Manipulation of Clostridium thermocellum at Its Optimum Growth Temperature (2016) Joseph Groom, Daehwan Chung, Adam Guss, Daniel Olson, Lee Lynd and Janet Westpheling Metabolic Engineering Communications, 3:30–38.
  • DNA Targeting by the Type I-G and Type I-A CRISPR-Cas Systems of Pyrococcus furiosus (2015) Joshua Elmore, Trace Deighan, Jan Westpheling, Rebecca M. Terns, Michael P. Terns Nucleic Acid Research, pii: gkv1140, doi: 10.1093/nar/gkv1140
  • Cellulosic Ethanol Production via Consolidated Bioprocessing at 75 ̊ C by Engineered Caldicellulosiruptor bescii (2015)
  • Daehwan Chung, Minseok Cha, James G. Elkins, Adam Guss and Janet Westpheling  Biotechnology for Biofuels, 8:163
  • Deletion of a Gene Cluster for [Ni-Fe] Hydrogenase Maturation in the Anaerobic Hyperthermophilic Bacterium Caldicellulosiruptor bescii Identifies Its Role in Hydrogen Metabolism (2015) Minseok Cha, Daehwan Chung, and Janet Westpheling Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, DOI 10.1007/s0025 3-015-7025-z
  • Homologous Expression of the Caldicellulosiruptor bescii CelA Reveals that the Extracellular Protein Is Glycosylated (2015) Daehwan Chung, Jenna Young, Yannick J. Bomble, Todd A. Vander Wall, Joseph Groom, Michael E. Himmel, Janet Westpheling PLOS ONE | DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0119508, 2015
  • Daehwan Chung, Minseok Cha and Janet Westpheling. (2014) Direct Conversion of Plant Biomass to Ethanol by Engineered Caldicellulosiruptor bescii. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 2014 111 (24) 8931-8936; published ahead of print June 2, 2014, doi:10.1073/pnas.1402210111.
  • Joseph Groom, Daehwan Chung, Jenna Young and Janet Westpheling. (2014) Heterologous Complementation of a pyrF Deletion in Caldicellulosiruptor hydrothermalis Generates a New Host for the Analysis of Biomass Deconstruction. Biotechnology for Biofuels, Biotechnology for Biofuels, 7:132.
  • Cha, C., D. Chung, J. Elkins, A. Guss and J. Westpheling. 2013. Metabolic Engineering of the Caldicellulosiruptor bescii Yields Increased Hydrogen Production from Lignocellulosic Biomass, Biotechnology for Biofuels, 6: 85. doi: 10.1186/1754-6834-6-85.
  • Chung, D., M. Cha, J. Farkas and J. Wespheling. 2013. Overcoming Restriction as a Barrier to DNA Transformation in Caldicellulosiruptor species Results Efficient Marker Replacement. Biotechnology for Biofuels, 6: 82. doi: 10.1186/1754-6834-6-82
  • Chung, D., C. Cha, J. Farkas and J. Westpheling. 2013. A stable replicating shuttle vector for Caldicellulosiruptor species: Use for Overcoming Restriction as a Barrier to Extending Genetic Methodologies to Members of This Genus. PLoS ONE. Link to Article.
  • Chung, D., J. Farkas and J. Westpheling. 2013. Detection of a Novel Active Transposable Element in Caldicellulosiruptor hydrothermalis and a New Search for Elements in this Genus. Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, 40: 517-521.
  • Farkas, J., D. Chung, M. Cha, J. Copeland, P. Grayeski and J. Westpheling. 2013. Improved Growth Media and Culture Techniques for Genetic Analysis and Assessment of Biomass Utilization by Caldicellulosiruptor bescii. Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, 40: 41-49.
  • Chung, D., J. Farkas, J. Huddleston, E. Olivar and J. Westpheling. 2012. Methylation by a Unique beta-class N4-Cytosine Methyltransferase is Required for DNA Transformation of Caldicellulosiruptor bescii DSM6725. PLoS ONE. Link to Article.
  • Farkas J., D.-H. Chung, M. DeBarry, M.W. Adams and J. Westpheling. 2011. Defining Components of the Chromosomal Origin of Replication of the Hyperthermophilic Archaeon, Pyrococcus furiosus, Needed for Construction of a Stable Replicating Shuttle Vector. Applied and Environmental Microbiology, in press.
  • Chung, D.-H., J. Huddleston, J. Farkas and J. Westpheling. 2011. Identification and Characterization of CbeI, a Novel Thermostable Restriction Enzyme from Caldicellulosiruptor bescii DSM 6725 and a Member of a New Subfamily of HaeIII-like Enzymes. Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, Biotechnology for Biofuels, 7:132.
  • Lipscomb, G., K. Stirrett, G. Schut, F. Yang, F. Jenney, R. Scott, M.W. Adams and J. Westpheling. 2011. Natural competence in the hyperthermophilic archaeon Pyrococcus furiosus facilitates genetic manipulation: construction of multiple markerless deletions of genes encoding the two cytoplasmic hydrogenases. Applied and Environmental Microbiology 77: 2232-2238.
Articles Featuring Janet Westpheling

Janet Westpheling, professor in the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences department of genetics, has been selected to receive the Society for Industrial Microbiology and…

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