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Yat-Chen Chou

I am a senior scientist at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. My earlier research experience included exploring the cellulase gene expression systems and using site specific mutagenesis to enhance the activity of the enzymes. I have since devoted many years of time to research on metabolic engineering of Zymomonas mobilis for efficient ethanol production, resulting in several patents, as well as a recent effort in producing other biofuel products. I was one of the key researchers in the cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) project with DuPont, working on the construction and improvement of a robust ethanologen for their process. My later research responsibilities have expanded to include investigating microalgae as a feedstock for biofuel production and developing genetic tools to help achieve that goal.

Research Interests

Presently I am involved in the following projects:

  • Ethanologen improvement
  • Microalgae genetic tool development (PI)
  • Biological transformation
  • Hydrocarbon production in microorganisms

Technical Expertise

  • Molecular biology
  • Metabolic engineering for strain improvement
  • Fermentation


M.S., Biochemistry/Molecular Biology, Utah State University
B.S., Agricultural Chemistry, National Taiwan University


Adney, W. S.; Jeoh, T.; Beckham, G. T.; Chou, Y.-C.; Baker, J. O.; Michener, W.; Brunecky, R.; Himmel, M. E. (2009). "Probing the Role of N-Linked Glycans in the Stability and Activity of Fungal Cellobiohydrolases by Mutational Analysis." Cellulose (16); pp. 699-709.

Mohagheghi, A.; Dowe, N.; Schell, D.; Chou, Y.-C.; Eddy, C; Zhang, M. (2004). "Performance of a Newly Developed Integrant of Zymomonas mobilis for Ethanol Production on Corn Stover Hydrolysate." Biotechnology Letters (26); pp. 321-325.

Chou, Y.-C.; Adney, W. S.; Decker, S.; Baker, J. O.; Kunkel, G.; Templeton, D. W.; Himmel, M. (2004). "Cloning and Heterologous Expression of the Gene Encoding a Family 7 Glycosyl Hydrolase from Penicillium funiculosum," Chapter 10. Lignocellulose Biodegradation.ACS Symposium Series (889); pp. 170-193.

Adney, W. S.; Chou, Y.-C.; Decker, S. R.; Ding, S. Y.; Baker, J. O.; Kunkel, G.; Vinzant, T. B.; Himmel, M. E. (2003). "Heterologous Expression of Trichoderma reesei 1,4-beta-D-Glucan Cellobiohydrolase (Cel 7A)," Chapter 23. ApplicationsĀ  of Enzymes to Lignocellulosics. ACS Symposium Series (855); pp. 403-437.

Mohagheghi, A.; Evans, K.; Chou, Y.-C.; Zhang, M. (2002). "Cofermentation of Glucose, Xylose, and Arabinose by Genomic DNA-Integrated Xylose/Arabinose Fermenting Strain of Zymomonas mobilis AX101." Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology (98-100); pp. 885-898.


Viitanen, P. V.; Chou, Y.-C.; McCutchen, C. M.; Zhang, M. "Xylitol Synthesis Mutant of Xylose-Utilizing Zymomonas for Ethanol Production." U.S. Patent No. 7,741,119 B2 (2010)

Viitanen, P. V.; McCutchen, C. M.; Emptage, M.; Caimi, P. G.; Zhang, M.; Chou, Y.-C. "Ethanol Production Using Xylitol Synthesis Mutant of Xylose-utilizing Zymomonas." U.S. Patent No. 7,741,084 B2 (2010).

Zhang, M.; Chou, Y.-C. "Method of Inactivation of an End Product of Energy Metabolism in Zymomonas mobilis." U.S. Patent No. 7374939 (2008).

Adney, W. S.; Baker, J. O.; Decker, S. R.; Chou, Y.-C.; Himmel, M. E.; Ding, S. Y. " Superactive Cellulase Formulation Using Cellobiohydrolase-1 from Penicillium funiculosum." U.S. Patent No. 7,449,550 B2 (2008).

Zhang, M.; Chou, Y.-C. "Stable Zymomonas mobilis Xylose and Arabinose Fermenting Strains." U.S. Patent No. 7,354,755 B2 (2008).

Zhang, M.; Chou, Y.-C.; Howe, W.; Eddy, C.; Evans, K.; Mohagheghi, A. "Zymomonas Pentose-Sugar Fermenting Strains and Uses Thereof." U.S. Patent No. 7,223,575 B2 (2007).

Adney, W. S.; Thomas, S. R.; Baker, J. O.; Himmel, M. E.; Chou, Y.-C. "Method for Increasing Thermostability in Cellulase Enzymes." U.S. Patent No. 5,712,142 (1998).

Zhang, M.; Chou, Y.-C.; Picataggio, S. K.; Finkelstein, M. "Single Zymomonas mobilis Strain for Xylose and Arabinose Fermentation." U.S. Patent No. 5,843,760 (1998).

Contact Information

Yat-Chen Chou
Senior Scientist
National Bioenergy Center
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
15013 Denver West Parkway
Golden, CO 80401
Phone: 303-304-7766