383850 Rational Engineering of Microbes for Metabolite Overproduction

Sunday, November 16, 2014
Galleria Exhibit Hall (Hilton Atlanta)
Kang Zhou, Department of Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA and Gregory Stephanopoulos, Chemical Engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA

It has been a century since industrial scale microbial fermentation processes were established, which produced simple natural metabolites, such as ethanol, acetone, glycerol and butanol. During the past two decades, advances in DNA technology have enabled transfer of heterologous pathways to microbial host cells and manipulation of a specific step of an endogenous pathway, leading to great improvements in diversity and titer of the metabolites that microbes can make. For example, gram-per-liter titer of plant therapeutic molecules (e.g. paclitaxel and artemisinin precursors) has been achieved in Escherichia coli or Saccharomyces cerevisiae. However, these amazing successes still heavily relied on trial and error experiments, which are very time-consuming; this is because the interactions between heterologous pathways and cellular metabolism and those among parts of a foreign pathway were not well understood. The faculty candidate is interested in understanding details of these interactions for developing fast and rational approaches to improve the metabolite overproducing strains, and inventing novel practical means of preventing negative interactions among pathway segments - such as spatially separating incompatible pathway modules into different cells or compartments of a cell. During the poster session, the candidate will present our projects that embody these research ideas, and discuss his research plan with search committees.

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