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US Forest Service Research & Development
Contact Information
  • US Forest Service Research & Development
  • 1400 Independence Ave., SW
  • Washington, D.C. 20250-0003
  • 800-832-1355
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Franz St. Johns

Research Microbiologist
Phone: 608-231-9438
Contact Franz St. Johns


Current Research

Research in my laboratory focuses on the interface between the physical disruption and the subsequent enzyme hydrolysis stages necessary to prepare woody biomass for microbial conversion to biofuels and value-added products. Our guiding hypothesis is that through the development of better, more efficient enzyme systems, it may be possible to limit the chemical and physical input required during the initial disruption stage resulting in a reduced cost for microbial bioconversions of this important renewable resource.In this research our primary concern is the second most abundant but chemically most complex biomass polymer, the β-1,4 linked xylose polysaccharide 4-O-methyl glucuronoarabinoxylan (xylan). This polymer is important in that it associates through covalent attachment to interconnect the lignified cell wall with the rigid cellulose fibrils. The pretreatment process may be augmented with enzymes that target the specific linkages connecting lignin and xylan thereby facilitating the secondary cellulolytic enzyme processing and potentially limiting the initial physical pretreatment costs. Our research applies bacteriology, biochemistry, bioinformatic resources as well as structural biology to identify proteins which may function optimally to degrade minimally processed lignocellulosic biomass.A second goal of my laboratory is the development of second generation bacterial biocatalysts. Initial efforts will focus on defining and characterizing Gram positive bacterial characteristics that show promise in bioconversion processes. Examples of such characteristics include robust protein secretion and the potential of many Gram positive bacteria to transport complex oligosaccharides. Understanding how such physiological features function and how they can be employed in bacterial biocatalysts is of great value to the development of engineered biocatalyst.

Research Interests

  • Microbiology and enzymology of lignocellulose bioconversion
  • X-ray crystallographic protein structure studies of enzymes involved in biomass degradation
  • Development of second generation bacterial biocatalysts with enhanced capabilities of protein secretion and complex carbohydrate utilization

Education

  • University of Maryland, Baltimore, Post doctoral fellowship X-ray Crystallography Core Facility, 2009
  • University of Florida, Ph.D. Microbiology and Cell Science, 2006
  • University of Florida, Gainesville, BS University of Florida, Gainesville, 1999

Professional Organizations

  • American Society for Microbiology, Member

Publications & Products

  • Zhang, Chao; Zhuang, Xinshu; Wang, Zhao Jiang; Matt, Fred; St. John, Franz; Zhu, J.Y. 2013. Xylanase supplementation on enzymatic saccharification of dilute acid pretreated poplars at different severities.
  • Fernandez-Fueyo, Elena; Ruiz-Dueñas, Francisco J.; Ferreira, Patricia; Floudas, Dimitrios; Hibbett, David S.; Canessa, Paulo; Larrondo, Luis F.; James, Tim Y.; Seelenfreund, Daniela; Lobos, Sergio; Polanco, Rubén; Tello, Mario; Honda, Yoichi; Watanabe, Takahito; Watanabe, Takashi; Ryu, Jae San; Kubicek, Christian P.; Schmoll, Monika; Gaskell, Jill; Hammel, Kenneth E.; St. John, Franz J.; Wymelenberg, Amber Vanden; Sabat, Grzegorz; BonDurant, Sandra Splinter; Syed, Khajamohiddin; Yadav, Jagjit S.; Dodapaneni, Harshavardhan; Subramanian, Venkataramanan; Lavin, José L.; Oguiza, José A.; Perez, Gumer; Pisabarro, Antonio G.; Ramirez, Lucia; Santoyo, Francisco; Master, Emma; Coutinho, Pedro M.; Henrissat, Bernard; Lombard, Vincent; Magnuson, Jon Karl; Kües, Ursula; Hori, Chiaki; Igarashi, Kiyohiko; Samejima, Masahiro; Held, Benjamin W.; Barry, Kerrie W.; LaButti, Kurt M.; Lapidus, Alla; Lindquist, Erika A.; Lucas, Susan M.; Riley, Robert; Salamov, Asaf A.; Hoffmeister, Dirk; Schwenk, Daniel; Hadar, Yitzhak; Yarden, Oded; de Vries, Ronald P.; Wiebenga, Ad; Stenlid, Jan; Eastwood, Daniel; Grigoriev, Igor V.; Berka, Randy M.; Blanchette, Robert A.; Kersten, Phil; Martinez, Angel T.; Vicuna, Rafael; Cullen, Daniel. 2012. Comparative genomics of Ceriporiopsis subvermispora and Phanerochaete chrysosporium provide insight into selective ligninolysis.
  • Chow, Virginia; Nong, Guang; St. John, Franz J.; Rice, John D.; Dickstein, Ellen; Chertkov, Olga; Bruce, David; Detter, Chris; Brettin, Thomas; Han, James; Woyke, Tanja; Pitluck, Sam; Nolan, Matt; Pati, Amrita; Martin, Joel; Copeland, Alex; Land, Miriam L.; Goodwin, Lynne; Jones, Jeffrey B.; Ingram, Lonnie O.; Shanmugam, Keelnathan T.; Preston, James F. 2012. Complete genome sequence of Paenibacillus sp. strain JDR-2.
  • St John, Franz J.; Preston, James F.; Pozharski, Edwin. 2012. Novel structural features of xylanase A1 from Paenibacillus sp. JDR-2.
  • Floudas, Dimitrios; Binder, Manfred; Riely, Robert; Barry, Kerrie; Blanchette, Robert A.; Henrissat, Bernard; Martínez, Angel T.; Otillar, Robert; Spatafora, Joseph W.; Yadav, Jagjit S.; Aerts, Andrea; Benoit, Isabelle; Boyd, Alex; Carlson, Alexis; Copeland, Alex; Coutinho, Pedro M.; deVries, Ronald P.; Ferreira, Patricia; Findley, Keisha; Foster, Brian; Gaskell, Jill; Glotzer, Dylan; Górecki, Pawe³; Heitman, Joseph; Hesse, Cedar; Hori, Chiaki; Igarashi, Kiyohiko; Jurgens, Joel A.; Kallen, Nathan; Kersten, Phil; Kohler, Annegret; Kües, Ursula; ArunKumar, T. K.; Kuo, Alan; LaButti, Kurt; Larrondo, Luis F.; Lindquist, Erika; Ling, Albee; Lombard, Vincent; Lucas, Susan; Lundell, Taina; Martin, Rachael; McLaughlin, David J.; Morgenstern, Ingo; Morin, Emanuelle; Murat, Claude; Nagy, Laszlo G.; Nolan, Matt; Ohm, Robin A.; Patyshakuliyeva, Aleksandrina; Rokas, Antonis; Ruiz-Dueñas, Francisco J.; Sabat, Grzegorz; Salamov, Asaf; Samejima, Masahiro; Schmutz, Jeremy; Slot, Jason C.; John, Franz St.; Stenlid, Jan; Sun, Hui; Sun, Sheng; Syed, Khajamohiddin; Tsang, Adrian; Wiebenga, Ad; Young, Darcy; Pisabarro, Antonio; Eastwood, Daniel C.; Martin, Francis; Cullen, Dan; Grigoriev, Igor V.; Hibbett, David S. 2012. The Paleozoic Origin of Enzymatic Lignin Decomposition Reconstructed from 31 Fungal Genomes.
  • St. Johns, Franz; Hurlbert, Jason C.; Rice, John D.; Preston, James F.; Pozharski, Edwin. 2011. Ligand bound structures of a glycosyl hydrolase family 30 glucuronoxylan xylanohydrolase.
  • Ryu, Jae San; Shary, Semarjit; Houtman, Carl J.; Panisko, Ellen A.; Korripally, Premsagar; St. John, Franz J.; Crooks, Casey; Siika-aho, Matti; Magnuson, Jon K.; Hammel, Kenneth E. 2011. Proteomic and functional analysis of the cellulase system expressed by Postia placenta during brown rot of solid wood.
  • St John, Franz J.; Gonzalez, Javier M.; Pozharski, Edwin. 2010. Consolidation of glycosyl hydrolase family 30 : a dual domain 4/7 hydrolase family consisting of two structurally distinct groups.

Last updated on : 04/02/2014