Industrial Biotechnology

Application Domain Leader: Charlotte Williams

The modern world is reliant on the production of natural and synthetic chemicals for everyday use. Chemicals are used in our clothes, housing, medicine, agriculture, high tech devices (e.g. touch screens), transportation (vehicles and fuel) and every other aspect of our lives. Synthetic biology has a substantial role in delivering the next generation of efficient, cost-effective and sustainable manufacturing technologies; this role is achieved by utilisation of novel microorganism strains that can be engineered to produce defined outputs, such as production of small molecules of high value.

The Industrial Biotechnology Application Domain will sit at the interface of synthetic biology and chemical manufacturing technologies; and its strategy is to develop new ways to build competitive sustainability in areas of high value-added advanced manufacturing. This will be achieved by developing synthetic biology methods to produce high value products for industry and develop the manufacturing strategy for Australian Biotechnology companies.

Projects within the Industrial Biotechnology Application Domain fall into key focus areas that are organised by outcome; all projects have long term goals for industrial application. This domain seeks to bridge the chemistry and biology manufacturing space with a keen focus on delivering to industry and the biotechnology sector; by finding new ways to make small molecules through innovative methods such as continuous flow reactors or using microorganisms ‘mini reactors’.

Projects focus on development of improved manufacturing processes for making important natural products and chemicals, such as pesticides or herbicides or compounds that promote plant growth, or natural products that have a biologically activity that may be suitable to treat pain or inflammation. We are working on engineering enzymes to catalyse new chemical reactions, to make new products important for, and of use to biotechnology; or new enzymes to breakdown unwanted waste. Further we are working on designing new systems to efficiently produce advanced pharmaceuticals as well as methods to manufacture high purity natural products without the need for crop material.

Projects by outcome area

Sustainable Natural Products

  • A synthetic diatom mini-chromosome for specialised synthetic biology functions in microalgae
  • Deploying regulatory network engineering for advanced yeast biorefinery
  • In vitro resynthesis of the lichen symbiosis as a useful system for synthetic biology
  •  Novel terpene-based agrochemicals – smart agricultural applications of strigolactones
  • Artificial cell compartments for yeast metabolic engineering
  • Exploring strigolactone diversity through metabolic engineering
  • Synthetic Endoplasmic Reticulum Morphology to Reshape Protein Production in Yeast
  • Understanding Isoprenoid Metabolism in Cyanobacteria

Biocatalysis in Flow

  • Continuous Flow Biocatalysis
  • Cell-on-a-chip
  • Engineering of P450 Enzymes in Functional Peroxygenases
  • Multistep Continuous Biocatalytic Cascades

Chemicals by design

  • From one to many: Synthetic yeast chassis for C1 metabolism
  • Recapturing lost crop value: multifaceted synthetic biology for next-generation lignin valorisation
  • Orthogonal redox metabolism
  • Novelty by design: expanding the biochemical toolbox
  • Gas fermentation to valuable chemicals
  • Engineering riboswitches in vivo to accelerate strain evolution of M. alcaliphilum 20Z for high value biomass
  • Encapsulin nanoreactors for catalysis
  • Self-organising biomolecular scaffolds for biocatalytic pathways