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Center for Biorenewables

Building a greener future through innovation and education relating to biorenewable food, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, materials, and energy

Plants for People

Plants have been used by people for millennia to help meet the basic needs of food, clothing, warmth, and shelter, and have also provided a rich diversity of substances for human health. By harnessing solar power using photosynthesis and evolving a myriad of biosynthetic pathways, plants embody natural chemical factories that produce energy-rich and unique biomolecules.  

Our center seeks to bring together Penn State’s broad expertise in plant biology, genomics, microbiology, chemistry, materials science, chemical engineering, bioengineering, and other related fields to make the discoveries that will enable to plants to meet the current and future needs of human society, sustainably. 

The Center for Biorenewables is jointly funded by Penn State Institutes for Energy and the Environment and Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences.


Soil tillage reduces availability of ‘longevity vitamin’ ergothioneine in crops

Soil tillage on farms may significantly reduce the availability in crops of ergothioneine, an amino acid produced by certain types of soil-borne fungi and bacteria that is known as a “longevity vitamin” due to its potent antioxidant properties, according to new research. The study is among the first to demonstrate that soil disturbance can directly impact a key dietary factor associated with long-term human health.

Grant to fund research on biological approach to manage soil pathogens and pests

In an effort to boost the profitability and sustainability of organic specialty crop productions, a team of scientists is improving and optimizing a method for controlling soilborne pests and pathogens and promoting soil health that prevents oxygen from entering the soil.

Small but mighty: Microgreens go from trendy vegetables to functional food

Starting decades ago as fashionable, high-value gourmet greens, today microgreens have gained popularity among consumers for their nutritional profile and high content of antioxidant compounds. Now, a new study suggests that the tiny plants have the potential to help provide global nutrition security.

What makes plant cell walls both strong and extensible?

A plant cell wall’s unique ability to expand without weakening or breaking — a quality required for plant growth — is due to the movement of its cellulose skeleton, according to new research that models the cell wall.