Metabolic engineering of protective metabolites biosynthesis pathways: our way to reach extraordinary industrial strains robustness

Researchers: Christian Marx, Maurizio Bettiga

In a foreseen bio-based economy, renewable fuels and chemicals will be also produced by bioconversion of sustainably produced biomass. The tolerance of industrial microorganisms to the conditions prevailing in industrial context is considered one of the major limiting factors to productivity, and hence sustainable processes.
Within this research area we apply a new metabolic engineering strategy to enhance microorganism robustness: intracellular accumulation of protective metabolites.

Many organisms use accumulation of certain molecules as a successful strategy to enhance robustness towards environmental insults. Redox metabolism-related molecules such as glutathione, ascorbic acid and redox cofactors act as protective metabolites in almost every organism, from microbes to humans. Protective molecules taken through the diet have been demonstrated to play important roles in preventing human aging and degenerative diseases in humans as well.

Taking nature as an example, we use metabolic engineering to introduce this capacity in industrially relevant microorganisms, such as yeast, or enhance it even more.

We have demonstrated how successful this strategy could be by engineering the metabolism of yeast for enhanced accumulation of the natural antioxidant glutathione, and we are continuing along that strategy with our activities within the strategic research funded by the Chalmers Energy Initiative. Furthermore, we are investigating other protective molecules, such as vitamin C and polyamines.


Yeast damage cartoon

Plant and other organisms accumulate protective metabolites

This work is funded by The EU-FP7 project NEMO and the Chalmers Area of Advance Energy.



Published: Wed 08 Jul 2015. Modified: Tue 31 May 2016