Genetic tool development and sporulation mechanisms in thermophilic clostridia

Project

Genetic tool development and sporulation mechanisms in thermophilic clostridia

Sustainable production of bio-based products using thermophilic clostridia is an emerging niche in industrial biotechnology. The limited availability of genetic tools for the manipulation of clostridial species is a major barrier for exploiting them. Hence, we aim to develop genetic engineering tools for thermophilic clostridia into industrial platform organisms for production of green chemicals.

Introduction

The increasing concern related to the expensive and limited petroleum resources and the impact of carbon footprint has led to the lookout for petroleum substitutes. To overcome this issue, sustainable production of bio-based products from biomass is gaining attention.

A number of Clostridium species has been extensively used to produce useful bio-based products but the major challenge is the limited genetic tools available for the same. The key factor affecting the genetic accessibility is the restriction-modification systems (RM) in Clostridium which makes it difficult for genome editing of the organism. The interest lies to overcome the RM barrier to develop novel genetic tools similar to CRISPR-Cas system or CLOSTRON, to engineer thermophilic clostridia for the production of green chemicals. Concurrently, these tools will be employed to disrupt sporulation genes to determine the connection between sporulation and metabolism of the organism.

Aim

The goals of the project are classified into two major parts: (1) to develop genetic tools for Clostridium therrmosuccinogenes, to enhance succinic acid production, and (2) to study the sporulation mechanism of the same organism.

Techniques

The project could include an extensive range of techniques, such as genetic engineering (knockout/knock-in of genes for strain development) using CRISPR-Cas system, characterization of restriction-modification systems, sporulation assays using microscopy and flow cytometer, anaerobic microbiology, fermentations etc.

Contact

If you are an interested B.Sc. or M.Sc. student that want to know more about the project, feel free to contact me by e-mail: joyshree.ganguly@wur.nl