About the Project

Project 12: Engineering of cofactors biosynthesis in yeasts

Cofactors are non-protein chemical compounds and/or metal ions that are necessary for an enzyme activity and their presence influence the metabolic landscape of an organism. This PhD project is focused on optimizing cofactor biosynthetic pathways that are already present in Saccharomyces cerevisiae in order to avoid the addition of such compounds to the medium, still allowing for optimum growth of the organism. Moreover, heterologous pathways for the biosynthesis of new cofactors will be introduced in Saccharomyces cerevisiae and in other non-conventional yeasts to enable the expression of new enzyme families in these hosts. These goals will be achieved by combining different approaches such as evolutionary engineering, reverse engineering and genetic engineering..

After graduating, I completed a 1-year internship at Ginkgo Bioworks Inc. in Boston (United States). There, I was part of a customer-facing program team with the final goal of improving an industrial E. coli strain for a proprietary process that is scaled to 600,000 Liters. During that experience, I got passionate about metabolic engineering and I decided to pursue my PhD in the field.

Research Interests


PhD candidate at the Industrial Microbiology Group, TU Delft. I graduated both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at University of Trento, Italy. As my first research experience, I had the opportunity to take part to the 2013 UNITN iGEM team and to develop an Ethylene producing E. coli. During my Master instead, I worked on the development of home-made Cell-Free Protein Synthesis systems in the Mansy Lab. During my studies, I obtained two scholarships that allowed me to spend three months at DESY (Hamburg, Germany), where I worked on microfluidic chips development and two months at Harvard Medical School (Boston, United States), where I engineered inducible promoters for Cyanobacteria.

Thomas Perli