Greenhouse complex planned at Discovery Park

Renewable Bioproducts / Signaling Mechanisms in Plants

A new greenhouse complex set to open at UNT's Discovery Park in 2012 will house up to 10 individual greenhouses and help university researchers develop bioenergy, biofuels and other bioproducts.

Construction on the complex is expected to be complete in 2012, says Helen Bailey, director of facilities management and construction at UNT.

"We are going to start off with two greenhouses, and the complex will be expandable to hold 10 greenhouses," Bailey says. "It is part of the master growth plan to support our growing research areas."

The $1.5 million complex will be located north of the main Discovery Park building. Initially, the complex will house two 1,000 square foot greenhouses, but will eventually be able to house 10 greenhouses for a total of 10,000 square feet of research space.

The UNT System Board of Regents approved the project earlier this year. Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. has been selected as the architect for design.

Stevens Brumbley, associate professor of biological sciences, will conduct research projects in the greenhouses as part of his work in plant metabolic engineering. Plant metabolic engineering involves working with plant cell processes to encourage the growth and production of certain substances within the plant.

"We’ve been putting bacterial genes into the plant so the plant makes industrial chemicals, like biodegradable plastics," Brumbley says. "In the long term, there will be a whole diverse range of different things going on."

Brumbley and other researchers will work with cotton and other plants to research biofuels, bioenergy, bioproducts, as well as oil production and higher-energy feed stock, Brumbley says. The feed stock will be used for bioenergy projects.