Fungal Biotechnology

Fungi are an integral part of lignocellulosic conversion processes from enzyme to biofuel and bioproducts production. Particular filamentous fungi are able to produce a large variety and amount of enzymes that can deconstruct polysaccharides to sugars and lignin to aromatic substrates, that is key to maximizing the use of the carbon in the biomass feedstocks. An oleaginous yeast, Rhodosporidium toruloides, able to utilize a variety of sugars and lignin derived molecules, is being engineered in a collaboration with the Biofuels and Bioproducts Division to produce advanced biofuels and renewable chemicals. Researchers in the Fungal Biotechnology Group utilize a broad range of molecular biology, integrated omics and modeling techniques to build more efficient tools for engineering the fungi and identifying genes important in more efficient enzyme production and higher flux to fuel precursors from diverse plant biomass substrates.

Projects

  • Develop and extend genetic engineering tools for fungi, including CRISPR, for deletion and insertion of individual genes, multiple copies of a desired gene, and stacking of different genetic traits for enhanced performance of the fungus
  • Use our fungal integrative bioinformatics tools and modeling capabilities for analysis of genomics, RNA-Seq, proteomics and metabolomics data to understand the organisms behavior and identify genes for improving production of enzymes in A. niger and small molecule precursors in R. toruloides
  • Expand the capabilities of heterologous gene expression hosts for complex metalloenzymes, e.g. laccases and peroxidases, involved in lignin polymerization. A. niger and alternative heterologous expression hosts will be developed
  • Increase titer, rate and yield of biofuel and bioproduct precursors from multiple substrates in R. toruloides via genetic and bioprocess engineering

Featured Publications