15 Nov

New publication describes the installation of solar panels on yeast

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.



28 Aug

New publication on engineering conductive protein fibers

Congrats to Noémie, Anna, and Jessica on their publication “Biomimetic Engineering of Conductive Curli Protein Films” in Nanotechnology! The manuscript describes the rational mutation of the protein CsgA to form protein fiber mats capable of conducting electronic charge. The work was inspired by similar naturally occurring systems that have evolved to be similarly conductive. Noémie is continuing some of this work in her own lab at McGill.

Fig1 for webspage

26 Jun

New publication on lanthanide recovery using engineered biofilm materials

Congrats to Richie and Avinash on their publication “Repurposing Bacterial Extracellular Matrix for Selective and Differential Abstraction of Rare Earth Elements” in Green Chemistry! The manuscript describes a method to isolate and recover rare earth elements (i.e. lanthanides), which are used in a variety of modern electronics applications, using a completely biologically produced material. It works even in mixtures with much higher concentrations of other metals in them.

Summary figure

24 May

New publication on tracking microbes in vivo

Congrats to Bom, Noémie, Ilona, Chaochen, Peter, and Jessica on their new publication “Tracking of engineered microbes in vivo using non-standard amino Tracking of engineered microbes in vivo using non-standard amino acid incorporation” in ACS Synthetic Biology! The manuscript describes a new method for imaging bacteria in mice even several days after oral administration. It lays the groundwork for a better understanding of microbial trafficking inside living hosts.

ACS SynBio Praveschotinunt fig1ACS SynBio Praveschotinunt fig1NSAA Fig1 revision