In this issue...
BETCy scientists chosen for editorial board of Frontiers in Energy Research
BETCy scientists meet at NREL to probe the catalytic and redox properties of [FeFe]-hydrogenase
Get to know EFRC scientists tackling energy challenges in the Winter 2015 issue of  
Frontiers in Energy Research
The research described in this newsletter is supported as part of the 
Biological Electron Transfer and Catalysis, an Energy Frontier Research Center funded by the 
U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Science.
Rhesa Ledbetter
Rhesa Ledbetter
editorialBETCy scientists chosen for editorial board of Frontiers in Energy Research

Several BETCy scientists have been chosen to serve on the editorial board of the Energy Frontier Research Centers's newsletter, Frontiers in Energy Research. Most recently, Rhesa Ledbetter, who is a graduate student in the BETCy's Seefeldt research group, was selected to serve on the board. Board members serve for 6-9 months and typically write articles for several issues of the newsletter. When asked about her recent appointment, Ms. Ledbetter said, "I am excited to serve on the editorial board for Frontiers in Energy Research, as this experience will allow me to bridge my passion for science and education through writing." 

Katie Fixen
Other past board members from BETCy include Garret Williams (Jones group) and Kathryn Fixen (Harwood group). Ms. Ledbetter continues BETCy's efforts to educate and inform the public about our Center, its research and that of other EFRCs.

Frontiers in Energy Research showcases the people and the research of the EFRC community. The mission of the newsletter is to disseminate the exciting EFRC accomplishments and activities to the scientific community, including other EFRCs, their program managers and others at the DOE. Serving on the editorial board and writing for the newsletter offers the editors the chance to write about cutting-edge science to a broader audience and from a different perspective than that required for the typical peer-reviewed manuscript.

Garret Williams
Mr. Williams' recent article, "Two Cobalts Are Better Than One," was featured in the Autumn 2015 issue of Frontiers in Energy Research, and Ms. Fixen's article, "Bringing Energy Science into the Classroom," was published in the Summer 2015 issue. The current Frontiers newsletter may be viewed at There, you may sign up to receive upcoming issues and read other newsletter articles authored by Ms. Ledbetter, Mr. Williams and Ms. Fixen.
bbaBETCY researchers publish review on the
Evolution of Respiratory Complex I

In an upcoming paper published in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta., BETCy scientists will provide an extensive review on the evolution of the ubiquitous respiratory complex, Complex I, based on their studies with hydrogen-evolving membrane-bound hydrogenases.

Complex I - or NADH quinone oxidoreductase (NUO) -is an integral component of all modern-day aerobic respiratory chains and has a very close evolutionary relationship with energy conserving [NiFe]-hydrogenases of anaerobic microorganisms. In this review, the evolutionary trajectory, spanning more than 3 billion years, from a hydrogen-producing ancestral respiratory complex to the modern day respiratory Complex I, is discussed.  
Inferred concentrations of atmospheric oxygen throughout geological time, the proposed emergence of respiratory complexes and the free energies of their reactions. The abbreviations are: ARC, ancestral respiratory complex; MBH, membrane-bound hydrogenase; FPO, methanophenazine oxidoreductases that oxidize ferredoxin (FPOF) or cofactor F420 (FPOC); NUO, forms of Complex I that oxidize ferredoxin (NUOA) or NADH (NUOB).

We hypothesize that the diversification of respiratory complexes was driven by the larger energy yields associated with coupling electron donors to the reduction of oxidants with increasing electrochemical potential, including protons, S and membrane soluble organic compounds such as quinone derivatives. Importantly, throughout Earth's history, these oxidants were only made available as the redox state of the atmosphere and oceans became progressively more oxidized as a result of the origin and diversification of photosynthesis.

"The role of geochemistry and energetics in the evolution of modern respiratory complexes from a proton-reducing ancestor" will be published in a special issue on Complex I in Biochimica et Biophysica Acta. The review was co-authored by: Gerrit J. Schut, Oleg Zadvornyy, Chang-Hao Wu, John W. Peters, Eric S. Boyd and Michael W. W. Adams
BETCY scientists meet at NREL to probe the catalytic and redox properties of [FeFe]-hydrogenase
For the week of Nov. 30 to Dec. 4, Jacob Artz, a fourth-year graduate student from MSU (Peters lab), and Garret Williams, a second-year graduate student from ASU (Jones lab), met with staff scientists Mike Ratzloff and David Mulder at NREL (King lab), in order to perform a new suite of difficult experiments. The visit was designed in order to utilize a variety of expertise and equipment, specifically the new EPR center at NREL.  NREL's new instrument, the Advanced Spin Resonance Spectrometer (ASRS), was highlighted in the

Ahead of the visit, Artz prepared samples of [FeFe]-hydrogenase. Williams contributed expertise on chemical reconstitution in order to prepare samples for analysis. Ratzloff was able to analyze samples using FTIR, while Artz and Mulder combined efforts on EPR spectroscopy. All personnel involved were critical towards properly executing the experiments. 

The trip was a huge success in terms of both team-building and collaborative efforts, as well as scientific output. The FTIR and EPR data that was obtained were high-quality, and may be used to contribute new insights into the catalytic and redox properties of [FeFe]-hydrogenases, as well as a variety of other enzymes within BETCy.  Specifically, this data will contribute to an understanding of electron flow within a protein environment. The fruitful nature of the trip has already lead to plans for future MSU/ASU/NREL collaborations.
rhesa Get to know EFRC scientists tackling energy challenges in the Winter 2015 issue of 
Frontiers in Energy Research
Rhesa Ledbetter, a graduate student in the BETCy EFRC laboratory of Lance Seefeldt at Utah State University, currently sits on the editorial board of the EFRC newsletter Frontiers in Energy Research. Rhesa's recent article in Frontiers profiles five EFRC scientists and explores how family, teachers, and a young inmate have inspired their work. A synopsis of her article follows.
"EFRCs are composed of diverse individuals spanning a wide range of backgrounds who have a common vision of overcoming global energy challenges. A few individuals with a focus in the biological sciences recently shared their backgrounds and thoughts on working in an EFRC. 

Their stories are featured in the Frontiers in Energy Research article, "Getting to know scientists undertaking energy challenges." Anne-Frances Miller, a BETCy Thrust Leader, was one of those highlighted. The article reveals how EFRC scientists bring past experiences and unique perspectives together for the common good of reaching energy solutions for the future."
The full article can be found in Winter 2015 issue of Frontiers in Energy Research.
asilomar BETCy scientists help organize the 19th International Congress on Nitrogen Fixation

BETCy Director John Peters and BETCy PIs Lance Seefeldt and Caroline Harwood took part in the 19th International Congress on Nitrogen Fixation (ICNF), Oct. 4-9 at the historic Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, Calif.  BETCy Program Manager Robert Stack also attended.

The ICNF is a forum for scientists from around the world to present results related to nitrogen fixation.  The congress has been held periodically since the first meeting was organized in 1974 at Pullman, Washington.

A broad spectrum of topics was discussed at the 19th ICNF Asilomar conference, including sessions ranging in scope from the macro to the micro. A sampling of the session topics included Global Aspects of Nitrogen Fixation, Evolution and Ecology; Synthetic Biology; Biochemistry; and Inorganic Chemistry & Nitrogen Fixation. The program for 19th ICNF included daily plenary session talks, parallel session talks, and poster sessions.

Peters discussed recent results in the presentation entitled, "Evolution of Mo N2ase during Transition from Anaerobic to Aerobic Metabolism." Peters is also on the ICNF International Steering Committee. Seefeldt co-chaired the session on Biochemistry of Nitrogen Fixation and presented recent work in a talk entitled, "Insights into the Nitrogenase Mechanism." Seefeldt is a member of the ICNF Program Advisory Committee and the ICNF Local Organizing Committee. Harwood co-chaired the session on Microbiology & Synthetic Biology and is a member of the ICNF Program Advisory Committee. 

Program details can be viewed at