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Talk with Prof. Orkun Soyer: Understanding and engineering cell and community metabolism

The vision of synthetic biology to engineer biology using predictive models and high-throughput approaches. While this vision statement is very broad, synthetic biology efforts to date mostly focus on genetic circuit design in model organisms. Prof Orkun Soyer will present a different approach, where we combine engineering and natural principles towards creating multi-species microbial ecosystems.
When Mar 16, 2018
from 04:00 PM to 05:00 PM
Where Small Lecture Theatre, Cavendish Lab
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These so-called synthetic microbial communities can allow harvesting the full functional potential of the microbial world, leading to novel applications such as artificial gut, synthetic soil, waste-to-value conversion, and ecosystem functions in space missions. They can also act as model systems for understanding microbial interactions and ecology. To successfully design synthetic microbial communities composed of multiple microbial species that are biochemically and industrially relevant, we first need to establish the design principles governing microbial interactions and develop the experimental tools for their characterisation and manipulation. Here, Prof. Soyer will describe our ongoing efforts in discovering the reasons for metabolic interactions among microbes. He will argue that these metabolic interactions can be understood as an emergent property of the biochemical environment and associated thermodynamics within a multi-species system. Particularly, results from recent research has shown that the thermodynamic basis of microbial growth can lead to co-existence, even under conditions that are kinetically predicted to lead to competition-driven exclusion. This thermodynamic inhibition can have significant consequences for the engineering of multi-species system. Prof. Soyer will illustrate these points in the context of experimental systems that are being developed in his group, where they aim to establish key metabolic interaction motifs among biochemically and biotechnologically relevant microbes and extending to inter-kingdom interactions with fungi and plants.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Lorenzo Di Michele.

This talk is part of the BSS Formal Seminars series.



The Synthetic Biology Strategic Research Initiative provides a hub for anyone interested in Synthetic Biology at the University of Cambridge, as well as commercial partners and external collaborators.