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Steve R. Decker

Senior Scientist

Photo of Steve R. Decker
(303) 384-7759
At NREL Since: 

Steve Decker's main research focuses on the increasingly broad area of enzymatic depolymerization of biomass and emphasizes the dependency between pretreatment methods and enzymatic digestion of the resultant biomass fractions. He is specifically interested in evaluating the synergies between cellulases and hemicellulases/accessory enzymes as influenced by pretreatment conditions and severity. Pathways being explored include automation of colorimetric and fluorometric analogue assays, utilization of dye-linked polysaccharides, and product detection from enzymatic action on extracted and native lignocelluloses. Detection techniques include reducing sugar assays, spectrophotometric analysis, and enzyme-linked product detection. In addition, Dr. Decker is involved in new enzyme discovery and evaluation. This work centers on high-throughput screening of new enzymes and enzyme combination obtained by genome mining and applied to process-relevant substrates for biofuels production. He is also involved in heterologous expression of cellulases and enzyme engineering through rational design site-directed mutagenesis, as well as direct in situ enzyme visualization through tagging and ultrahigh-resolution imaging techniques. He is a member of the American Society of Microbiology and the American Chemical Society.


  • 1996 Ph.D., Microbiology, Colorado State University

  • 1993 M.S., Microbiology, University of Wisconsin—Oshkosh

  • 1988 B.S., Biology, University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point

Selected Publications 

  1. Brunecky, R., M. J. Selig, T. B. Vinzant, M. E. Himmel, D. Lee, M. J. Blaylock and S. R. Decker (2011). "In-Planta Expression of A. cellulolyticus Cel5A Endocellulase Reduces Cell Wall Recalcitrance in Tobacco and Maize." Biotechnology for Biofuels (4); pp. 1-4. Accessed July 23, 2012:
  2. Selig, M. J., Tucker, M.P.; Sykes, R.W.; Reichel, K.L.; Brunecky, R.; Himmel, M.E.; Davis, M.F.; Decker, S.R. (2010). "Biomass Recalcitrance Screening by Integrated High Throughput Hydrothermal Pretreatment and Enzymatic Saccharification." Ind. Biotechnol. (6); pp. 104-111. Accessed July 23, 2012:
  3. Naran, R.; Black, S.; Decker, R.; Azadi, P. (2009). "Extraction of Native Heteroxylans from Delignified Corn Stover and Aspen." Cellulose (16); pp. 661-675. Accessed July 23, 2012:
  4. Selig, M. J.; Adney, W.S.; Himmel, M.E. Decker, S.R. (2009). "The Impact of Cell Wall Acetylation on Corn Stover Hydrolysis by Cellulolytic and Xylanolytic Enzymes." Cellulose (16); pp. 711-722.
  5. Donohoe, B. S., Decker, S. R., M. P. Tucker, M. E. Himmel, and T. B. Vinzant (2008). "Visualizing Lignin Coalescence and Migration Through Maize Cell Walls Following Thermochemical Pretreatment." Biotechnol. Bioeng. (101); pp. 913-925. Accessed July 23, 2012:
  6. Jeoh, T.; Michener, W.; Himmel, M.E.; Decker, S.R.; Adney. W.S. (2008). "Implications of Cellobiohydrolase Glycosylation For Use in Biomass Conversion." Biotechnol. for Biofuels (1:10); Accessed July 23, 2012:
  7. Selig, M.J.; Knoshaug, E.P.; Adney, W.S.; Himmel, M.E.; Decker, S.R. (2008). "Synergistic Enhancement of Cellobiohydrolase Performance on Pretreated Corn Stover by Addition of Xylanase and Esterase Activities." Bioresource Technol. (99); pp. 4997-5005.
  8. Selig, M. J., Vinzant,T.B.; Himmel, M.E.; Decker, S.R. (2009). "The Effect of Lignin Removal by Alkaline Peroxide Pretreatment on the Susceptibility of Corn Stover to Purified Cellulolytic and Xylanolytic Enzymes." Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol. (155); pp. 397-406. Accessed July 30, 2012:
  9. Selig, M.J.; Viamajala, S.; Decker, S.R.; Tucker, M.P.; Himmel, M.E.; Vinzant, T.B. (2007). "Deposition of Lignin Droplets Produced During High Temperature Pretreatment of Maize Stems Retards Enzymatic Hydrolysis of Cellulose." Biotechnol. Prog. (23); pp. 1333-1339. Accessed July 23, 2012:
  10. Gidh, A.V.; Decker, S.R.; Vinzant, T.B.; Himmel, M.E.; Williford, C.W. (2006). "Fungal-induced redistribution of kraft lignin molecular weight by multi-angle laser light scattering." Chemical Engineering Communications (193); pp. 1546-1561.
  11. Baker, J.O.; McCarley, J.R.; Lovett, C.H.; Yu, W.S.; Adney, T.R.; Rignall, T.B.; Vinzant, S.R. Decker, J. Sakon, Himmel, M.E. (2005). "Catalytically enhanced endocellulase Cel5A from Acidothermus cellulolyticus." Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol (121); pp. 129-148.
  12. Feng J.; Himmel, M.E.; Decker, S.R. (2005). "Electrochemical Oxidation of Water by a Cellobiose Dehydrogenase from Phanerochaete chrysosporium." Biotechnol. Lett. (27); pp. 555-560. Accessed July 23, 2012:
  13. Jeoh, T.; Michener, W.; Himmel, M.E.; Decker, S.R.; Adney. W.S. (2008). "Implications of Cellobiohydrolase Glycosylation For Use in Biomass Conversion." Biotechnol. for Biofuels (1:10); Accessed July 23, 2012:
  14. Selig, M.J.; Decker, S.R.; Knoshaug, E.P.; Baker, J.O.; Himmel, M.E.; Adney, W.S. (2008). "Heterologous Expression of Aspergillus niger β-D-Xylosidase (XlnD): Characterization on Lignocellulosic Substrates." Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol. (146); pp. 257-68.
  15. Knoshaug, E.P.; Selig,M.J.; Baker, J.O.; Decker, S.R.; Himmel, M.E.; Adney. W.S. (2008). "Heterologous Expression of Two Ferulic Acid Esterases from Penicillium funiculosum." Appl. Biochem. Biotechnol. (146); pp. 79-87.
  16. Karagulyan, H.K.; Gasparyan, V.K.; Decker, S.R. (2008). "Immobilization of Fungal β-Glucosidase on Silica Gel and Kaolin Carriers." Appl. Biochem. and Biotechnol. (146); pp. 39-47.
  17. Himmel M.E.; Baker, J.O.; Adney, W.S.; Decker, S.R. (2007). "Metabolism of Plant Polymers: Cellulose and Hemicellulose," Reddy, C.A.; Beveridge, T.J.; Breznak, J.A.; Maloy, S.; Marzluf, G.A.; Schmidt, T.M.; Snyder, L.R., ed. Methods for General and Molecular Microbiology. Washington, D.C., : ASM;
  18. Decker, S.R.; Sheehan, J.; Dayton, D.C.; Bozell, J.J.; Adney, W.S.; Hames, B; Thomas, S.R.; Bain, R.L..; Czernik, S.; Zhang, M.;; Himmel, M.E. (2007). "Biomass Conversion," Kent, J.A. , ed. Kent and Riegel's Handbook of Industrial Chemistry and Biotechnology. New York, NY: Springer; pp. 1499-1548.

NREL Publications 

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