Engineering a Thermophilic Microbial Chassis for Synthetic Biology Applications

The OMIC-Engine Athens Hub is working on incorporating the advantages of high-temperature biocatalysis into Synthetic Biology (SB) applications. Led by the Enzyme and Microbial Biotechnology Unit at the Department of Biology of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (PI Prof. Dimitris Hatzinikolaou) and in collaboration with the Laboratory of Biotechnology the National Technical University of Athens (PI Prof. Emeritus Fragiskos Kolisis and the Laboratory of Enzyme and Synthetic Biotechnology of the National Hellenic Research Foundation (PI Dr. Georgios Skretas), the hub is exploring the possibilities to expand the array of microbial SB chassis beyond the current mesophilic constraints, by pursuing to develop and evaluate the necessary experimental tools and controls for establishing a model microbial thermophilic SB chassis (Thermochassis) based on a member of the genus Geobacillus. The work performed so far has been focused on: [i] The rational selection of a number of candidate Geobacillus sp. strains that will serve as templates for a thermophilic SB chassis, [ii] The exploitation and implementation of state-of-the-art approaches and tools for engineering the selected strains, and [iii] the evaluation of the resulting thermophilic chassis in proof-of-concept applications.

The successful expansion of the array of available SB chassis to the thermophilic area is expected to significantly broaden the range of SB applications. Thermophilic bacteria are well known for their enormous metabolic versatility that is, unfortunately, scattered among various species. Additional metabolic wealth is also being available through metagenomic studies in various thermophilic environments. It is, therefore, logical to infer that using the available bioinformatics tools, many novel thermophilic pathways that code for important industrial chemicals can be assembled and expressed, depending on the availability of an efficient SB thermochassis.

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