Small-molecule synthesis and discovery using microbes
Most of human needs for fine chemicals, (e.g. drugs, specialty chemicals, biofuels, etc.), are recovered from nature (e.g. microbes, plants and fossils). Nonetheless, these fine chemicals are not easily accessible in nature at affordable prices. Moreover, there is a continuous need for new/novel fine chemicals that satisfy emerging human needs. Not to mention the significant impacts of the synthesis, utilization and disposal of these chemicals on our health and the well being of our environments.
Our research projects aim at developing synthetic biology strategies for the biosynthesis and discovery of fine chemicals, especially lipid-based drugs and biofuels, to render them accessible for human consumption. In addition, we work on the discovery/invention of new fine chemicals that satisfy emerging human needs in health, energy and bioremediation fields. Our research is conducted using synthetic biology (SB) approaches in microbial hosts as platforms, while aiming at a sustainable and ecological production of safe fine chemicals.
Our Research Themes
SB for Drug Synthesis
In this theme we try to produce already known but hardly accessible natural molecules of microbial or plant origins in easy-to-grow biological hosts, like yeasts. The purpose of projects falling in that theme then is to increase productivity of those molecules and hence decrease their costs.
SB for Biofuels
In this theme, we engineer lipogenic microorganisms to rewire their metabolisms towards an increased production of biofuel molecules. This way we develop sustainable and ecological alternatives to currently used fossil fuel.
SB for Bioremediation
In this theme we develop molecules that are applicable in the bioremediation of marine, lacustrine and terrestrial environments contaminated with hydrophobic substances like petroleum oils with particular focus on cold northern environments.
SB for Compound Discovery
Our long-term projects classify under this theme where we aim at the discovery of novel bioactive molecules using the knowledge and experience that we accumulate throughout our work in the previous themes.
SB Tools & Hosts Development
Development of successful synthetic biology strategies requires an easy access to efficient molecular biology tools. Therefore, under this theme we work on developing advanced and high-throughput methods, like CRISPR-Cas9-bsed methods, for different host strains we work with.
Biochemistry of Small Molecules
Development of successful synthetic biology strategies also rely on an excellent understanding of the native biosynthetic pathway and regulation of the secondary metabolites we are trying to produce. Therefore, under this theme, we work on advancing current fundamental understanding of the biochemistry of such metabolites in native hosts.