Metabolic Engineering

Metabolic Engineering (ME) combines the analysis of metabolic pathways using reconstructed metabolic networks (Figure 1) and molecular biology techniques to improve/design microbial strains with desirable properties.

ME can be applied to enhance the production of common goods like beer, wine, cheese, pharmaceuticals, and other biotechnology products.

ME brings new insights into the potential capabilities of the organism of interest utilizing breakthrough analytical techniques to predict the physiological impact of genetic and/or environmental modifications on the organism of interest without necessarily  applying recombinant DNA technology.

Our group carry out several projects in this field. From the elucidation of metabolic pathways essential for fungal morphogenesis  to  the construction of metabolic models of different organisms important in pharmaceutical and dairy industries. This approach enables the prediction and simulation of the phenotypic behaviour of the organisms of interest with accuracy in order to unravel new metabolic targets that can be susceptible to ME. In addition, we have developed methods for global quantification of metabolites and measurement of intracellular fluxes that can be used to support different ME applications.

Figure 1. The metabolic network of the central carbon metabolism of the yeast Candia albicans highlighting up and down-regulated metabolites (Figure produced by Liam Fearnley and Morgan Han).

From The Lab To Industry...


SF7489 Biological Fungicide

Starting life as a food colouring candidate, this novel metabolite from a unique strain of Epiccocum purpurascens has excellent efficacy against a broad range of phytopathogenic filamentous fungi, and potential pharmaceutical uses. More >>>

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The University of Auckland