Eager to use synthetic biology and metabolic engineering to develop processes for the bioproduction of chemicals from alternative carbon sources.
Current bioproduction processes are mainly based on sugar substrates or alternative materials containing sugars, such as organic waste or lignocellulosic biomass. Such bioproduction methods are limited by the sustainable supply and cost of sugar feedstocks for large-scale processes, which compete with human consumption. From a biotechnological point of view, C1 compounds (e.g. methanol, formaldehyde or formate) represent an interesting alternative as they can be generated from various unlimited sustainable sources such as natural gas or waste stream. Microorganisms can then convert C1 substrates into a myriad of products (e.g. fuels, chemicals or even new-to-Nature compounds). Due to its flexible metabolism, Pseudomonas putida is an excellent chassis for engineering novel assimilation pathways for alternative substrates, including the use of C1 compounds as carbon sources. This bacterium is able to use formaldehyde and formate as electron donors, but lacks key enzymes needed to use them as carbon sources. My research project focuses on establishing assimilation of C1 compounds, with formate as a model substrate, as the sole carbon and energy source to sustain growth of P. putida.