ABSTRACT: Biosensors in metabolic engineering

We would like to present the abstract of our keynote speaker Verena Siewers, who is a project leader at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering in the Systems and Synthetic Biology Group. 

Biosensors in metabolic engineering

Biotechnology has enabled us to design and construct microorganisms that can synthesize almost any natural product of interest. Such microorganisms will play a crucial role when moving towards a more sustainable generation of fuels and chemicals. In our group, we engineer the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae for the production of fatty acid-derived compounds including fuels such as fatty acid ethyl esters and alkanes, but also higher value fatty alcohols or esters with applications as food ingredients or pharmaceuticals. A second class of molecules produced in our modified yeast strains are isoprenoids, which comprise both low-value fuels and high-value fragrances. However, their initial production levels are often very low. A major challenge is therefore to turn poor producers into efficient ones. 
To address this, biosensors that sense the target compound or one of its precursors are a great asset. On the one hand, they make it possible to easily detect and select individual cells with superior production. On the other hand, they allow for the regulation of enzyme production dependent on the metabolic state of the cell. Examples of biosensor applications in metabolic engineering of yeast will be presented.