Photo of Venkat Subramanian

Venkat Subramanian

Researcher IV-Molecular Biology


Venkat Subramanian is a senior research scientist in the Bioenergy Center at NREL.

His research is focused on systems- and molecular-level understanding of microorganisms to produce useful bioproducts. Venkat's work has involved engineering a wide variety of organisms including microalgae, fungi, yeast, and bacteria. His expertise also involves systems biology approaches using different omics (transcriptomics, metabolomics, and proteomics) techniques.    

Venkat's major contributions have been in the fields of biohydrogen production from the green alga, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, and fungal genetic engineering in the ascomycetous fungus, Trichoderma reesei. His other research areas involve improving anaerobic digestion for production of valuable bioproducts and developing fungi for plastic upcyling.    

Research Interests

Algal biofuels (hydrogen and biodiesel): understanding the role of ferredoxins in green algae; characterizing metabolic pathways leading to biofuel production in green algae; genetic engineering of algae to improve their harvesting properties to reduce the cost of algal harvesting from open-pond bioreactors for commercial-scale biofuel/biodiesel production;  and screening new algal strains with improved lipid accumulation properties

Yeast and fungal biotechnology: studying fungal genomes; developing biotechnologically relevant fungal enzymes; and genetic engineering of microorganisms for the production of high-value chemicals

Affiliated Research Program

Venkat's research has encompassed varied biofuel-related areas that include second-generation/advanced biofuels (bioethanol from biomass) and third-generation biofuels (hydrogen and biodiesel). He is currently investigating the following research areas at NREL:

Improving genetic tractability of algal strains for biofuel production

Development of a yeast-based screening technique for the identification of novel high-catalytic cellulose-degrading enzymes

Development of T. reesei as a fungal cellulase expression host system

Improving butanediol production in bacterial systems

Development of yeast for production of biofuels and bioproducts


Ph.D., Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, University of Cincinnati

M.S., Molecular Biology, University of Southern Mississippi

M.Sc., Microbiology, University of Mumbai, India

B.Sc., Microbiology, University of Mumbai, India

Professional Experience

Research Scientist, NREL, Biosciences Center (fungal enzyme engineering, expression, and optimization R&D) (2015present)

Research Scientist, NREL, Biosciences Center (algal biofuels—hydrogen and biodiesel R&D) (2011present)

Postdoctoral Fellow, NREL, Biosciences Center, Photobiology Group (with Colorado School of Mines, Photobiological H2 Production R&D [Omics Technologies]) (20082011)

Featured Work

Phylogenetics-Based Identification and Characterization of a Superior 2,3-Butanediol Dehydrogenase for Zymomonas mobilis Expression, Biotechnology for Biofuels (2020)

Synthetic Fungal Multifunctional Cellulases for Enhanced Biomass Conversion, Green Chemistry (2019)

Ferredoxin5 Deletion Affects Metabolism of Algae During the Different Phases of Sulfur Deprivation, Plant Physiology (2019)

Chapter 9: The Role of Chlamydomonas Ferredoxins in Hydrogen Production and Other Related Metabolic Functions,  in Microalgal Hydrogen Production: Achievements and Perspectives (2018)

A Versatile 2A Peptide-Based Bicistronic Protein Expression Platform for the Industrial Cellulase Producing Fungus, Trichoderma reesei, Biotechnology for Biofuels (2017)

Profiling Chlamydomonas Metabolism Under Dark, Anoxic H2-Producing Conditions Using a Combined Proteomic, Transcriptomic and Metabolomics Approach, Journal of Proteome Research (2014)

Chapter: Metabolic Pathways in Green Algae With Potential Value for Biofuel Production, in The Science of Algal Fuels: Phycology, Geology, Biophotonics, Genomics and Nanotechnology (2012)

P450 Electron Transfer Proteins in the White Rot Fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium: Gene Transcription, Heterologous Expression, and Activity Analysis of the Expressed Proteins, Current Microbiology (2010)

Role of P450 Monooxygenases in the Degradation of the Endocrine Disrupting Chemical Nonylphenol by the White Rot Fungus Phanerochaete chrysosporium, Applied Environmental Microbiology (2009)

Genome, Transcriptome, and Secretome Analysis of Wood Decay Fungus Postia placenta Supports Unique Mechanisms of Lignocellulose Conversion, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2009)

View all NREL Publications for Venkat Subramanian.


Multifunctional Microbial Cellulases, U.S. Patent No. 10,538,753 (2020)

Improved Fungal Cellobiohydrolases, U.S. Patent No. 10,329,548 (2018)