EBI Seminar Series 2013
Yasuo Yoshikuni, Chief Science Officer, Bio Architecture Lab
Feb. 5, 2013, 4 p.m.
An Engineered Microbial Platform for Direct Biofuel Production from Brown Macroalgae
Dr. Yoshikuni co-founded Bio Architecture Lab and has developed the first platform technology of synthetic biology that enables the conversion of a previously untapped feedstock (seaweed) into a variety of chemicals. He currently directs BAL's core research programs and Intellectual Property efforts. Dr. Yoshikuni brings a decade of research experiences in protein engineering, computational enzyme design, and metabolic engineering into BAL. He has authored numerous papers in scientific publications including Nature, Science, and Chemistry & Biology. He completed his Ph.D. at University of California, Berkeley with Professor Jay D. Keasling. He then pursued a postdoctorate as a Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Jane Coffin Child's memorial fellow at University of Washington, Seattle.
Prospecting macroalgae (seaweeds) as feedstocks for bioconversion into biofuels and commodity chemical compounds is limited primarily by the availability of tractable microorganisms that can metabolize alginate polysaccharides. Here, we present the discovery of a 36-kilo-base pair DNA fragment from Vibrio splendidus encoding enzymes for alginate transport and metabolism. The genomic integration of this ensemble, together with an engineered system for extracellular alginate depolymerization, generated a microbial platform that can simultaneously degrade, uptake, and metabolize alginate. When further engineered for ethanol synthesis, this platform enables bioethanol production directly from macroalgae via a consolidated process, achieving a titer of 4.7% volume/volume and a yield of 0.281 weight ethanol/weight dry macroalgae (equivalent to ~80% of the maximum theoretical yield from the sugar composition in macroalgae).