Efficient cell factory design for production of lignocellulosic biofuels
For a cost-competitive production of biofuels from lignocellulose, we must succeed in designing microorganisms that can effectively ferment the two major sugars glucose and xylose. The primary eukaryotic cell factory Saccharomyces cerevisiae cannot naturally ferment xylose, and today's metabolic engineering methods are not
enough to create strains that can ferment xylose as effectively as glucose. This is because S. cerevisiae cannot sense extracellular xylose and lacks effective xylose transporters. The goal of this project is to understand how natural xylose-fermenting microorganisms sense xylose, and transfer the xylose sensor to S. cerevisiae to optimize its fermentation capacity. The knowledge and techniques generated in the project will take metabolic engineering beyond state-of-the-art, and provide an excellent platform for improving fermentation of other important lignocellulosic sugars such as cellobiose and more complex oligosaccharides.
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