Bioenergy and Industrial Biotechnology
This element of MIBTP focuses on understanding ingredients and feedstocks for biochemical engineering processes, what happens in process vessels and what may need to happen afterwards to add value to the product. The key elements of our combined research activities are as follows.
- Novel and cheap feedstocks.
- Understanding the physiology of bacteria in fermenters and the use of biofilms to avoid traditional stirred cultures.
- Metabolic engineering to optimise processes combining genomics and metabolomics.
- Expression of high value proteins in soluble form including secretion to the medium and encasement to solubilise difficult proteins.
- Purification of proteins by affinity methods and alternatives to standard chromatography – particularly using magnetic separation technologies.
- Creation of novel emulsions for healthy, safe and palatable food.
- The importance of mathematical and real models to understand metabolic processes as well as food related systems like the human gut.
- Collection and analysis of large datasets to understand the integration of multiple factors and allow process optimisation.
Natural product synthetic biology and discovery:
This element of MIBTP focuses on understanding how microbes can be exploited to create new and better products that have high value across a range of applications, including pharmaceuticals, agrochemicals, biofuels and platform chemicals. It exploits the mining of genomic information for potential new pathways and depends on high throughput analysis of metabolic products to detect and identify them. Training in analytical chemistry methods will be offered as part of the package. The package also links with Bio-processing above.
- Mining (meta)genomic information for new polyketide synthase/nonribosomal peptide synthetase (and other) biosynthetic pathways and their associated metabolic products (large data sets, genomic and metagenomic data mining, analytical chemistry techniques for product identification and structure elucidation)
- Molecular mechanistic investigation of biosynthetic pathways, from both the genetic and enzymology (including structural biology) perspectives
- Modelling pathways and flux through pathways to understand how they can be manipulated (mathematical biology and computer modelling)
- Manipulating pathways (from modifying expression, to mutation or replacement of key enzymes) to increase yield or improve flux characteristics (ie the balance of products + characterisation via metabolite profiling)
- Creation of novel pathways and optimisation of production from them (which will include assembling multiprotein factories and protein-protein interaction + structural biology)
- Investigation and explanation of not only polyketide synthase/nonribosomal peptide synthetase pathways, but also other complex pathways leading to high value products, such as biofuels and platform chemicals.