Project 15. Engineering of autotrophic yeast: towards a truly sustainable bio-based industry
The objective of the project is to create a yeast strain that can utilize CO2 as the carbon source and H2 as the energy source, a.k.a. an autotrophic yeast. Naturally, yeasts obtain both carbon and energy from organic compounds like sugars, but usage of sugars for production of fuels and chemicals on industrial scale is not optimal due to the high cost and competition with food production. Utilizing autotrophic yeast for large-scale production of bio-based chemicals will not only reduce production cost, but also reduce the current greenhouse gases level and save us from a more severe climate change. This project is in collaboration with EnobraQ (France).
Read more about Yeast Metabolic Engineering.
Previously in the lab of Dr. Brian Pfleger at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, USA, I developed a set of synthetic biology tools to facilitate reliable episomal gene expression in Pseudomonas putida KT2440. This generally recognized as safe (GRAS)-certified organism has recently received great attention from wider metabolic engineering community due to its ability to stand various xenobiotics (including antibiotics and various organic solvents), ability to express GC-rich genes typical of many actinobacteria and myxobacteria’s secondary metabolites gene clusters, and ability to generate huge amount of NADPH required in many biosynthesis reactions. Besides, I also developed synthetic consumption pathway in that organism to facilitate metabolic engineering of gamma-valerolactone, a product of a chemically effective lignocellulose breakdown process, into various useful chemicals.
Additionally during my time in the 2015 Synthetic Biology summer course at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, NY, USA, I studied the role of each gene in Escherichia coli chemotaxis circuitry using CRISPR interference technology under the supervision of Dr. Stanley Qi (Stanford University), and engineered Sachharomyces cerevisiae-based whole-cell biosensor for detection of various advanced biofuel molecules under the supervision of Dr. Pamela Peralta-Yahya (Georgia Institute of Technology).