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Enhancing Escherichia coli Fermentative Performance with Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1 Genes

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Renewable bioproduction through fermentation of microbial species such as E. coli shows much promise in comparison to conventional fossil fuel based chemical production. Although Escherichia coli is a workhorse for bioproduction, there are inherent limitations associated with the use of

Renewable bioproduction through fermentation of microbial species such as E. coli shows much promise in comparison to conventional fossil fuel based chemical production. Although Escherichia coli is a workhorse for bioproduction, there are inherent limitations associated with the use of this organism which negatively affect bioproduction. One example is E. coli fermentative growth being less robust compared to some microbes such as Lactobacilli under anaerobic and microaerobic fermentation conditions. Identification and characterization of its fermentative growth constraints will help in making E. coli a better fermentation host. In this thesis, I demonstrate that Lactobacillus plantarum WCFS1 has desirable fermentative capabilities that may be transferrable to E. coli through genetic engineering to alleviate growth restraints. This has led to the hypothesis that these L. plantarum DNA sequences are transferrable through a genomic library. A background of comparative genomics and complementary literature review has demonstrated that E. coli growth may be hindered by stress from many toxin-antitoxin systems. L. plantarum WCFS1 optimizes amino acid catabolism over glycolysis to generate high ATP levels from reducing agents and proton motive force, and Lactobacilli are resistant to acidic environments and encodes a wide variety of acid transporters that could help E. coli fermentative growth. Since a great variety of L. plantarum genes may contribute to its fermentative capabilities, a gDNA library containing L. plantarum WCFS1 genes has been successfully constructed for testing in E. coli bioproducers to search for specific genes that may enhance E. coli fermentative performance and elucidate the molecular basis of Lactobacillus fermentative success.

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2019-05

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Augmenting Protocols for In-situ Separation of Biocompounds.

Description

In our modern world the source of for many chemicals is to acquire and refine oil. This process is becoming an expensive to the environment and to human health. Alternative processes for acquiring the final product have been developed but

In our modern world the source of for many chemicals is to acquire and refine oil. This process is becoming an expensive to the environment and to human health. Alternative processes for acquiring the final product have been developed but still need work. One product that is valuable is butanol. The normal process for butanol production is very intensive but there is a method to produce butanol from bacteria. This process is better because it is more environmentally safe than using oil. One problem however is that when the bacteria produce too much butanol it reaches the toxicity limit and stops the production of butanol. In order to keep butanol from reaching the toxicity limit an adsorbent is used to remove the butanol without harming the bacteria. The adsorbent is a mesoporous carbon powder that allows the butanol to be adsorbed on it. This thesis explores different designs for a magnetic separation process to extract the carbon powder from the culture.

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2015-05

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The Effect of pH, Acetate, and Buffer Concentration on Anode Biofilms of Geobacter sulfurreducens PCA Using Advanced Electrochemical Methods

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The mechanisms of extracellular respiration in Geobacter sulfurreducens, commonly considered to be a model organism for anode respiration, are yet to be completely understood. The interplay between electron and proton transport especially could be a key to gaining further insights.

The mechanisms of extracellular respiration in Geobacter sulfurreducens, commonly considered to be a model organism for anode respiration, are yet to be completely understood. The interplay between electron and proton transport especially could be a key to gaining further insights. One way to investigate the mechanisms of extracellular respiration under varying environmental conditions is by analyzing the electrochemical response of the biofilm with respect to pH, buffer concentrations, and acetate concentrations. I seek to increase the understanding of the electrochemical response of the G. sulfurreducens biofilm through electrochemical impedance spectroscopy (EIS) and cyclic voltammetry (CV) techniques in concert with chronoamperometry. I used Geobacter sulfurreducens PCA biofilms in single-chamber electrochemical cells (approximately 100 mL volume) with a small gold working electrode (3.14 mm2). I observed limitations in the initial methods used for media replacement. I tracked changes in the CV data, such as EKA (midpoint potential), as a function of pH and buffer concentration. The media replacement method developed demonstrates success in pH experiments that will be transferrable to other environmental conditions to study electron transport. The experiments revealed that the clarity of data collected is dependent on the quality of the biofilm. A high quality biofilm is characterized by a high current density and normal growth behavior. The general trends seen in these experiments are that as pH increases the potential decreases, and as buffer concentration increases the potential decreases and pH increases. Acetate-free conditions in the reactor were unable to be achieved as characterized by non-zero current densities in the acetate-free experiments.

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2016-05

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Improvement strategies for the production of renewable chemicals by Synechocystis sp PCC 6803

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Synechocystis sp PCC 6803 is a photosynthetic cyanobacterium that can be easily transformed to produce molecules of interest; this has increased Synechocystis’ popularity as a clean energy platform. Synechocystis has been shown to produce and excrete molecules such as fatty

Synechocystis sp PCC 6803 is a photosynthetic cyanobacterium that can be easily transformed to produce molecules of interest; this has increased Synechocystis’ popularity as a clean energy platform. Synechocystis has been shown to produce and excrete molecules such as fatty acids, isoprene, etc. after appropriate genetic modification. Challenges faced for large–scale growth of modified Synechocystis include abiotic stress, microbial contamination and high processing costs of product and cell material. Research reported in this dissertation contributes to solutions to these challenges. First, abiotic stress was addressed by overexpression of the heat shock protein ClpB1. In contrast to the wild type, the ClpB1 overexpression mutant (Slr1641+) tolerated rapid temperature changes, but no difference was found between the strains when temperature shifts were slower. Combination of ClpB1 overexpression with DnaK2 overexpression (Slr1641+/Sll0170+) further increased thermotolerance. Next, we used a Synechocystis strain that carries an introduced isoprene synthase gene (IspS+) and that therefore produces isoprene. We attempted to increase isoprene yields by overexpression of key enzymes in the methyl erythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway that leads to synthesis of the isoprene precursor. Isoprene production was not increased greatly by MEP pathway induction, likely because of limitations in the affinity of the isoprene synthase for the substrate. Finally, two extraction principles, two–phase liquid extraction (e.g., with an organic and aqueous phase) and solid–liquid extraction (e.g., with a resin) were tested. Two–phase liquid extraction is suitable for separating isoprene but not fatty acids from the culture medium. Fatty acid removal required acidification or surfactant addition, which affected biocompatibility. Therefore, improvements of both the organism and product–harvesting methods can contribute to enhancing the potential of cyanobacteria as solar–powered biocatalysts for the production of petroleum substitutes.

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Date Created
2013

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Improving cyanobacterial hydrogen production through bioprospecting of natural microbial communities

Description

Some cyanobacteria can generate hydrogen (H2) under certain physiological conditions and are considered potential agents for biohydrogen production. However, they also present low amounts of H2 production, a reaction reversal towards H2 consumption, and O2 sensitivity. Most attempts to improve

Some cyanobacteria can generate hydrogen (H2) under certain physiological conditions and are considered potential agents for biohydrogen production. However, they also present low amounts of H2 production, a reaction reversal towards H2 consumption, and O2 sensitivity. Most attempts to improve H2 production have involved genetic or metabolic engineering approaches. I used a bio-prospecting approach instead to find novel strains that are naturally more apt for biohydrogen production. A set of 36, phylogenetically diverse strains isolated from terrestrial, freshwater and marine environments were probed for their potential to produce H2 from excess reductant. Two distinct patterns in H2 production were detected. Strains displaying Pattern 1, as previously known from Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803, produced H2 only temporarily, reverting to H2 consumption within a short time and after reaching only moderately high H2 concentrations. By contrast, Pattern 2 cyanobacteria, in the genera Lyngbya and Microcoleus, displayed high production rates, did not reverse the direction of the reaction and reached much higher steady-state H2 concentrations. L. aestuarii BL J, an isolate from marine intertidal mats, had the fastest production rates and reached the highest steady-state concentrations, 15-fold higher than that observed in Synechocystis sp. PCC 6803. Because all Pattern 2 strains originated in intertidal microbial mats that become anoxic in dark, it was hypothesized that their strong hydrogenogenic capacity may have evolved to aid in fermentation of the photosynthate. When forced to ferment, these cyanobacteria display similarly desirable characteristics of physiological H2 production. Again, L. aestuarii BL J had the fastest specific rates and attained the highest H2 concentrations during fermentation, which proceeded via a mixed-acid pathway to yield acetate, ethanol, lactate, H2, CO2 and pyruvate. The genome of L. aestuarii BL J was sequenced and bioinformatically compared to other cyanobacterial genomes to ascertain any potential genetic or structural basis for powerful H2 production. The association hcp exclusively in Pattern 2 strains suggests its possible role in increased H2 production. This study demonstrates the value of bioprospecting approaches to biotechnology, pointing to the strain L. aestuarii BL J as a source of useful genetic information or as a potential platform for biohydrogen production.

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Date Created
2013

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Electrochemical charaterization of anode-respiring geobacter sulfurreducens and geoalkalibacter subterraneus

Description

To further the efforts producing energy from more renewable sources, microbial electrochemical cells (MXCs) can utilize anode respiring bacteria (ARB) to couple the oxidation of an organic substrate to the delivery of electrons to the anode. Although ARB such as

To further the efforts producing energy from more renewable sources, microbial electrochemical cells (MXCs) can utilize anode respiring bacteria (ARB) to couple the oxidation of an organic substrate to the delivery of electrons to the anode. Although ARB such as Geobacter and Shewanella have been well-studied in terms of their microbiology and electrochemistry, much is still unknown about the mechanism of electron transfer to the anode. To this end, this thesis seeks to elucidate the complexities of electron transfer existing in Geobacter sulfurreducens biofilms by employing Electrochemical Impedance Spectroscopy (EIS) as the tool of choice. Experiments measuring EIS resistances as a function of growth were used to uncover the potential gradients that emerge in biofilms as they grow and become thicker. While a better understanding of this model ARB is sought, electrochemical characterization of a halophile, Geoalkalibacter subterraneus (Glk. subterraneus), revealed that this organism can function as an ARB and produce seemingly high current densities while consuming different organic substrates, including acetate, butyrate, and glycerol. The importance of identifying and studying novel ARB for broader MXC applications was stressed in this thesis as a potential avenue for tackling some of human energy problems.

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Date Created
2013

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Engineering a Co-Culture of Bacteria and Yeast for the Production of Renewable p-Coumaric Acid

Description

p-Coumaric acid is used in the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries due to its versatile properties. While prevalent in nature, harvesting the compound from natural sources is inefficient, requiring large quantities of producing crops and numerous extraction and purification steps.

p-Coumaric acid is used in the food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetic industries due to its versatile properties. While prevalent in nature, harvesting the compound from natural sources is inefficient, requiring large quantities of producing crops and numerous extraction and purification steps. Thus, the large-scale production of the compound is both difficult and costly. This research aims to produce p-coumarate directly from renewable and sustainable glucose using a co-culture of Yeast and E. Coli. Methods used in this study include: designing optimal media for mixed-species microbial growth, genetically engineering both strains to build the production pathway with maximum yield, and analyzing the presence of p-Coumarate and its pathway intermediates using High Performance Liquid Chromatography (HPLC). To date, the results of this project include successful integration of C4H activity into the yeast strain BY4741 ∆FDC1, yielding a strain that completely consumed trans-cinnamate (initial concentration of 50 mg/L) and produced ~56 mg/L p-coumarate, a resting cell assay of the co-culture that produced 0.23 mM p-coumarate from an initial L-Phenylalanine concentration of 1.14 mM, and toxicity tests that confirmed the toxicity of trans-cinnamate to yeast for concentrations above ~50 mg/L. The hope for this project is to create a feasible method for producing p-Coumarate sustainably.

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Date Created
2016-12

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Engineering Cellular Transport Systems to Enhance Lignocellulose Bioconversion

Description

Lignocellulosic biomass represents a renewable domestic feedstock that can support large-scale biochemical production processes for fuels and specialty chemicals. However, cost-effective conversion of lignocellulosic sugars into valuable chemicals by microorganisms still remains a challenge. Biomass recalcitrance to saccharification, microbial substrate

Lignocellulosic biomass represents a renewable domestic feedstock that can support large-scale biochemical production processes for fuels and specialty chemicals. However, cost-effective conversion of lignocellulosic sugars into valuable chemicals by microorganisms still remains a challenge. Biomass recalcitrance to saccharification, microbial substrate utilization, bioproduct titer toxicity, and toxic chemicals associated with chemical pretreatments are at the center of the bottlenecks limiting further commercialization of lignocellulose conversion. Genetic and metabolic engineering has allowed researchers to manipulate microorganisms to overcome some of these challenges, but new innovative approaches are needed to make the process more commercially viable. Transport proteins represent an underexplored target in genetic engineering that can potentially help to control the input of lignocellulosic substrate and output of products/toxins in microbial biocatalysts. In this work, I characterize and explore the use of transport systems to increase substrate utilization, conserve energy, increase tolerance, and enhance biocatalyst performance.

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Date Created
2018

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Identification of Lactate Export Systems in Escherichia coli through Genetic Screens and Substrate Similarity Search

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The purpose behind this research was to identify unknown transport proteins involved in lactate export. Lactate bioproduction is an environmentally beneficial alternative to petroleum-based plastic production as it produces less toxic waste byproduct and can rely on microbial degradation of

The purpose behind this research was to identify unknown transport proteins involved in lactate export. Lactate bioproduction is an environmentally beneficial alternative to petroleum-based plastic production as it produces less toxic waste byproduct and can rely on microbial degradation of otherwise wasted biomass. Coupled with appropriate product refinement, industrial microbial producers can be genetically engineered to generate quantities of bioplastic approaching 400 million metric tons each year. However, this process is not entirely suitable for large investment, as the fermentative bottlenecks, including product export and homeostasis control, limit production metrics. Previous studies have based their efforts on enhancing cellular machinery, but there remain uncharacterized membrane proteins involved in product export yet to be determined. It has been seen that deletion of known lactate transporters in Escherichia coli resulted in a decrease in lactate production, unlike the expected inhibition of export. This indicates that there exist membrane proteins with the ability to export lactate which may have another similar substrate it primarily transports.To identify these proteins, I constructed a genomic library of all genes in an engineered lactate producing E. coli strain, with known transporter genes deleted, and systematically screened for potential lactate transporter proteins. Plasmids and their isolated proteins were compared utilizing anaerobic plating to identify genes through sanger sequencing. With this method, I identified two proteins, yiaN and ybhL-ybhM, which did not show any significant improvement in lactate production when tested. Attempts were made to improve library diversity, resulting in isopropyl-β-D-1-thiogalactopyranoside induction as a likely factor for increased expression of potential fermentation-associated proteins. A genomic library from Lactobacillus plantarum was constructed and screened for transport proteins which could improve lactate production. Results showed that isolated plasmids contained no notable inserts, indicating that the initial transformation limited diversity. Lastly, I compared the results from genomic screening with overexpression of target transporter genes by computational substrate similarity search. Induced expression of ttdT, citT and dcuA together significantly increased lactate export and thus production metrics as well as cell growth. These positive results indicate an effective means of determining substrate promiscuity in membrane proteins with similar organic acid transport capacity.

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Date Created
2022