Dr. Amy Grunden

Professor of Microbiology

Biotechnological applications of extremophiles; microbial physiology; synthetic biology approaches for biofuel production, biodecontamination, and crop improvement; functional genomics



Research Interests


My research program is focused on the study of microorganisms called extremophiles, which are capable of thriving in diverse extreme environmental conditions such as high or low temperatures, high salinity, acidic or alkaline environments.  The goals of the extremophile research conducted in my laboratory are first to understand the adaptive mechanisms extremophiles use to survive in harsh environmental conditions and second to exploit these adaptations for biotechnological applications.  Research projects currently underway involve using selected extremophile enzymes and synthetic biology approaches to (1) decontaminate toxic organophosphorus-based nerve agents found in some pesticides and chemical warfare agents, (2) generate transgenic plants with increased tolerance to harsh environmental conditions for the purpose of developing plants that can survive in marginal environments, and (3) use extremophile genes to optimize fatty acid production in microalgae for biofuel production and (4) develop a synthetic carbon fixation cycle using archaeal and bacterial enzymes to augment the Calvin-Benson cycle in plant systems.  Research in my laboratory has been funded by DOD, DOE, NASA, NCBC, NSF, and the USDA.


Selected Publications

Mathews SL, Pawlak JJ, Grunden AM. (2015) Bacterial biodegradation and bioconversion of industrial lignocellulosic streams. Appl. Microbiol. Technol. DOI 10.1007/s00253-015-6471-y

Mathews SL, Pawlak JJ, Grunden AM. (2014) Isolation of Paenibacillus glucanolyticus from Pulp Mill Sources with Potential to Deconstruct Pulping Waste. Bioresource Technology. 164: 100–105.

Schreck S, Killens-Cade R, Grunden AM. (2014) Characterization of a Halophilic Acyl-CoA Thioesterase from Chromohalobacter salexigens for Use in Biofuel Production. Current Biotechnology. 2: 275-283.

Killens R, Turner R, McInnes C, Grunden AM. (2014) Characterization of a recombinant Metallosphaera sedula carboxylesterase for use in algal-based biofuel production. Advances in enzyme Research. 2:1-13.

Wang W, Allen E, Campos A, Killens-Cade R, Mixson S, Srirangan S, Sauer ML, Schreck S, Thapaliya N, Wilson C, Burkholder J, Stikeleather LF, Sederoff H, Grunden AM, Roberts WL. (2013) Dunaliella to Drop-In Replacement Liquid Transportation Fuel. Environmental Progress and Sustainable Energy. 32: 916–925.

Mathews SL, Ayoub AS., Pawlak J, Grunden AM. (2013) Methods for Facilitating Microbial Growth on Pulp Mill Waste Streams and Characterization of the Biodegradation Potential of Cultured Microbes. Journal of Visualized Experimentation. 82 doi: 10.3791/51373

Veal MW, Grunden AM, Chinn MS, Caffrey KR. (2013) Algae for Biofuels – Production and Conversion. Southern Regional Aquaculture Center. Publication Number 4309.

Veal MW, Chinn MS, Caffrey KR. Grunden AM. (2013) Algae for Biofuels – Economic and Environmental Costs.  Southern Regional Aquaculture Center. Publication Number 4310.

Bruno-Barcena JM, Chinn MS, Grunden AM. (2013) Genome Sequence of the Autotrophic Acetogen Clostridium autoethanogenum JA1-1 Strain DSM 10061, a Producer of Ethanol from Carbon Monoxide. Genome Announcements. Aug 15;1(4). pii: e00628-13. doi: 10.1128/genomeA.00628-13.

Theriot CM, Semcer R, Shah A, Grunden AM. (2011) Improving the Catalytic Activity of Hyperthermophilic Pyrococcus horikoshii Prolidase for Detoxification of Organophosphorus Nerve Agents over a Broad Range of Temperatures. Archaea. 2011:565127.

Theriot CM, Tove, SR, Grunden AM. (2010) Improving the catalytic activity of hyperthermophilic prolidases for detoxification of organophosphorus nerve agents over a broad range of temperatures. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 87:1715-1726.

Im YJ, Ji ML, Lee AM, Killens R, Grunden AM, Boss WF. (2009) Expression of Pyrococcus furiosus superoxide reductase in Arabidopsis enhances heat tolerance. Plant Physiol. 151:893-904.

Lee AM, Sevinsky J, Bundy J, Grunden AM, Stephenson J. (2009) Proteomics of Pyrococcus furiosus, a hyperthermophilic archaeon refractory to traditional methods. Journal of Proteomics Research.8:3844-3851.

Theriot CM, Tove, SR, Grunden AM. (2009) Characterization of two proline dipeptidases (prolidases) from the hyperthermophilic archeaon Pyrococcus horikoshii. Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol. 86:177-188.

Grunden, A.M., Jenney, F.E. Jr, Ma, Ji, M.L., Weinberg, M., K., M.W.W. Adams. (2005) Characterization of Recombinant NAD(P)H:rubredoxin oxidoreductase of Pyrococcus furiosus and reconstitution of a NADPH-dependent, superoxide reduction pathway. Appl. Environ. 71:1522-1530.