Barney, Sarkanen Awarded Patents

March 28, 2018

a line of lightbulbs against a dark background and only one is lit to symbolize one successful idea

Congratulations to faculty Brett Barney and Simo Sarkanen who were recently awarded patents for their discoveries.

Department faculty Brett Barney and graduate students Carolann Knutson and Mary Plunkett were awarded a patent for a genetically-modified diazotrophic microbe and methods involving the same microbe. Diazotrophs are microorganisms that can naturally fix atmospheric nitrogen and produce new nitrogen compounds that can be used by other organisms. Most organisms cannot use atmospheric nitrogen directly. The diazotrophic microbe is modified to excrete a nitrogen-containing compound in a greater amount than a comparable diazotrophic microbe. Then, the genetically-modified diazotroph can be grown with a non-diazotroph to increase the growth of the non-diazotroph.

Faculty Simo Sarkanen and team members Yi-ru Chen-Sarkanen and Yun-Yun Wang were awarded a patent for lignin-degrading methods. Lignin is an organic material that gives woody plants their stength, structure, and rigidity and does not easily rot.

See the complete list of patents awarded to University of Minnesota researchers