The project is carried out in the Division of Industrial Biotechnology.
Researchers: Cathleen Kmezik
, Scott Mazurkewich
, Johan Larsbrink
A still unrealized goal in biotechnology is to engineer microorganisms able to simultaneously degrade biomass and convert the stored energy into high-value compounds, i.e.
consolidated bioprocessing. Most attempts have focused on model organisms, such as Escherichia coli
and Saccharomyces cerevisiae
, with thus far suboptimal results. Neither of these organisms is adapted to degrade the complex carbohydrates present in plant biomass, and as such their genomes require substantial ‘re-wiring’ to be of use in consolidated bioprocessing.
This project is funded by a Starting Grant by the Swedish Research Council (VR), and lasts for four years. The project will focus on development of a consolidated bioprocess using non-model organisms, which have the innate abilities to both degrade the complex carbohydrates constituting plant biomass and simultaneously secrete multipurpose chemical building blocks in the form of fatty acids. These fatty acids are currently produced by the petrochemical industry, and sustainable alternatives are lacking. The microorganisms will be modified to generate designer strains able to grow well on select biomass types, such as forestry and agricultural waste and other industrial side streams.