Systems Biology and Metabolic Engineering of industrially relevant Bacteria

Bacteria can be found in every habitat of Earth. Their metabolic potential is fascinating: origin of atmospheric oxygen, driving biogeochemical cycles, degradation and synthesis of a plethora of compounds. Our group is interested in understanding this potential and in its rational application within the cell factory notion.

Previous and Current Research

We perform research in the field of molecular genetics and applied microbiology. Our aim is to characterize global gene regulation in industrially relevant microorganisms, with a particular focus on the central carbon metabolism and on amino acid biosynthesis, but also with respect to phosphorus and polyphosphate metabolism. Cutting edge methods including DNA microarray analysis and ultrafast sequencing methods are employed. Our work contributes to establishing a systems-level understanding of the bacterial cell with the biotechnologically important Corynebacterium glutamicum as an example. Applied research aims at metabolic engineering and rational strain development based on functional genomics results in the form of a genome-based biotechnology. Following synthetic biology approaches, we are developing high-performance strains for the production of amino acids and primary metabolites under the framework of White Biotechnology.

Future Projects and Aims

In fundamental research projects we are characterizing transcriptional regulation and signal transduction with respect to regulation of the central metabolism of C. glutamicum on the topological and mechanistic levels which appear to be different from the well-established model bacteria Escherichia coli and Bacillus subtilis. In a systems biology approach, we are analyzing the energy metabolism of C. glutamicum.

The generated knowledge will be applied to optimize C. glutamicum as platform organism for White Biotechnology. Along the same line, a flexible feedstock concept for C. glutamicum is pursued enabling access to a wide spectrum of carbon and energy sources including those present in lignocellulosic hydrolysates from agricultural wastes, biorefinery streams or in biodiesel production wastes.

Biocatalysts for new or improved processes in White Biotechnology are being developed by metabolic engineering of C. glutamicum and E. coli. Typically, the focus is on the production of monomers for subsequent chemical conversions such as putrescine and other diamines or succinate and other diacids. In a synthetic biology project the metabolic trait of methylotrophy is characterized, modules for bacterial methylotrophy are identified and realized on the genetic level. The generated knowledge will contribute to an increased understanding of bacterial methylotrophy and will facilitate transfer of methylotrophy to biotechnologically relevant bacterial species as a new modular platform for methanol-based production of bulk chemicals.

Latest Publications of the Group