Congrats to Junling and Miguel on their publication “Light-driven fine chemical production in yeast biohybrids” in Science! This is our group’s first publication in Science, and it will come online tomorrow! The manuscript describes a bio-hybrid system in which we attached light harvesting nanoparticles to the surface of genetically engineered S. cerevisiae (baker’s yeast) in order to combine the strengths of inorganic materials (i.e. high light harvesting efficiency) with the strengths of biological cells (i.e. performing complex organic chemistry), and avoid their respective weaknesses. The bio-hybrid system is able to produce the desired metabolite – shikimic acid, a precursor in many drug syntheses – more efficiently than the un-engineered yeast.
Overall, this is a way to make microbial factories, which are increasingly being used for the production of drugs, nutraceuticals, and other fine chemicals, more efficient. It is akin to putting solar panels on your house so that you use less power from the grid. Check out the press release and beautiful promo video that we made with the Wyss Media Team.