Industrial Systems Biology

SBE Webinar
Originally delivered Aug 25, 2009

Cell factories are used extensively to produce many specific molecules used as pharmaceuticals, fine chemicals, fuels, materials and food ingredients. Through the use of directed genetic modifications of cell factories – an approach referred to as metabolic engineering – it is possible to develop novel bioprocesses that are more efficient, that are more environmentally friendly and that may produce novel compounds. Biotech processes are therefore increasingly replacing classical chemical synthesis.

In this development it is particularly interesting to develop platform cell factories that can be used for production of many different compounds. This approach has been used with great success in the field of industrial enzyme production, where e.g. Aspergillus oryzae is used for the production of a large number of enzymes. Yeast and filamentous fungi represents very attractive cell factories for production of chemicals, as these organisms have extensive metabolic capabilities and are already implemented for industrial production of many different compounds.

Besides being and industrial workhorse for the production of beer, wine, bread, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae serves as an important eukaryotic model organism. There have therefore been many detailed studies in this organism and the molecular mechanisms underlying many different diseases have been revealed through studies using this yeast. We have used S. cerevisiae as a platform organism for the production of a wide range of chemicals, e.g. antibiotics, organic acids, isoprenoids and lipids. In this lecture the development and use of different systems biology technologies for identification of metabolic engineering targets will be presented.

Aspergillus niger and Aspergillus oryzae are two other important cell factories, that are used for the production of enzymes and organic acids. We have recently developed an extensive systems biology toolbox for these two fungi, and in the lecture some results from this will also be presented.

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