Metabolic Engineering of Bacteria for Production of Oleochemicals

Webinar organized by the International Metabolic Engineering Society and the Society for Biological Engineering
Originally delivered Dec 16, 2014
  • Type:
    Archived Webinar
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  • Duration:
    1 hour
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This talk describes pathways for producing high-value commodity chemicals derived from fatty-acids and how we have combined synthetic biology and systems biology to improve oleochemical production in bacteria using sustainable feedstocks. I describe my group’s efforts to engineer artificial transcription factors for regulating chromosomal genes and our collaborative efforts with the Dumesic group at UW-Madison to develop processes for producing fermentable sugars from biomass that don’t require cellulytic enzymes.

Finding a sustainable alternative for today’s petrochemical industry is a major challenge facing chemical engineers and society at large. To be sustainable, routes for converting carbon dioxide and light into organic compounds for use as both fuels and chemical building blocks must be identified, understood, and engineered. Advances in metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, and other biological engineering disciplines have expanded the scope of what can be produced in a living organism. As in other engineering disciplines, synthetic biologists want to apply a general understanding of science (e.g. biology and biochemistry) to construct complex systems from well-characterized parts (e.g. DNA and protein).

Once novel synthetic biological systems (e.g. enzymes for biofuel synthesis) are constructed, they must be engineered to function inside evolving cells without negatively impacting the host’s physiology. In most cases first generation systems fail to meet this goal. My group uses systems biology tools to identify metabolic, regulatory, and/or physiological barriers which often can be overcome with metabolic engineering strategies.



Brian Pfleger

Brian received his bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University in 2000, and earned his PhD in Chemical Engineering in 2005 from the University of California-Berkeley. Brian’s thesis research focused on developing methods of controlling gene expression in bacteria that could be applied to enhancing the biosynthesis of pharmaceuticals. 

After graduating, he accepted a NIH-postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan, where he studied how six Bacillus anthracis enzymes assemble a natural product essential for iron acquisition and pathogenesis....Read more

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