Verena Siewers
​Verena Siewers
​Photo: Martina Butorac

Fuels, medicine and chemicals may be sustainably engineered from yeast

​Yeast have become increasingly interesting as paths to address several societal challenges over the last years. Verena Siewers explains how, here – and at the KAW jubilee symposium Metabolism – The Foundation of Life.
​The Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation is celebrating its 100-year anniversary with a series of symposia in various university cities around Sweden. The one in Gothenburg will focus on metabolism and will be held 28 September in Conference Centre Wallenberg. Anybody with an interest in the topic is invited to attend.
At the symposium, young promising researchers from the University of Gothenburg and Chalmers University of Technology will be paired with internationally renowned experts in the respective fields. The young researcher will present his or her research and introduce the international guest.
Verena Siewers, researcher at the department Biology and biological Engineering, will talk about the use of yeast for the production of chemicals.
Why is yeast interesting for the production of chemicals?
– Many of these chemicals are currently derived from petroleum or other non-sustainable sources. Therefore the aim of this research is to provide a sustainable source for a number of compounds that are used for example as fuels, lubricants, polymer building blocks, cosmetics, food ingredients or pharmaceuticals, says Verena Siewers.
You will be introducing Christina Smolke, Professor of Bioengineering at Stanford University. Tell us about her!
– Christina Smolke is a world-known synthetic biologist who has constructed artificial control devices based on RNA that are able to regulate microbial metabolism. She is probably most famous for her research on transferring complex biosynthetic pathways to yeast and by this enabling yeast to produce pharmaceuticals such as opioids.
What are the main challenges in your research field right now?
– There have been numerous proof-of-concept examples in the past years (both by academia and industry), where microbes are engineered to produce certain chemicals. However, only a relative small number has made it to industrial-scale production so far. A major challenge is therefore the closing of this gap.
Text: Christian Borg
September 28 the jubilee symposium Metabolism – The Foundation of Life, is held to celebrate Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation’s 100-year anniversary. More information and registration >>


Published: Mon 11 Sep 2017.