Thrust Area A1: Engineering Biopolymers:
The three interconnected approaches of this thrust area are:
(1) Study the incorporation of lectin and salicylic acid (SA) in films of medium chain length polyhydroxyalkanoate (mcl-PHA) and the efficacious release of these compounds from PHA, with the goal of enabling biofilm formation of nitrogen fixing bacteria (A1.1).
(2) Conduct formulation studies on water soluble polysaccharides (e.g., starch) blended with waste-derived proteins, to provide a sprayable, film-forming, protein-rich biopolymer which can biodegrade on a prescribed time-scale while releasing nitrogen to the soil; and which can be spray-patterned and/or perforated to provide an optimal combination of water-permeability and weed suppression (A1.2).
(3) Create hybrid, sprayable slurries or suspensions comprising lectin/SA functionalized PHA particles/pellets in a polysaccharide/protein solution, such that the water permeability, gas permeability and weed barrier properties of the deposited layer(s) can be engineered through: (a) control of the PHA particle/pellet size, shape and distribution; and (b) the chemistry, mechanical properties and interparticle distribution of the polysaccharide/protein film binder (A1.3).