Bioproduction of high-value chemicals from Seaweeds

TODD_U23CASE

With a predicted global market of >$2 billion and importance to e.g., textiles, adhesives, plastics industries, 3-hydroxypropionate (3-HP) is the world’s third most valuable platform chemical.

However, current biosynthetic and chemical routes for 3-HP production are too costly or inefficient for industrial scale production.

This PhD aims to develop a cost-effective and low carbon emission microbial biosynthetic route for 3-HP production from algal waste.

With industrial partner Central Pharma Biotechnica Limited (CPB), this PhD provides multidisciplinary training, the environment and award winning pilot work for the student to build upon and develop/optimise our unique Intellectual Property (IP) for industry.

On top of this, the successful applicant will conduct an industrial placement at CPB.

You will be trained in molecular genetics to generate proprietary microbial strains with enhanced bio-3- HP production from abundant metabolites present in farmed macroalgae.

You will learn analytical chemistry techniques, e.g. chromatography and mass spectroscopy, to quantify production of this high value chemical. You will investigate growth conditions in batch and ultimately in bioreactor settings that optimise bio-3-HP production by the strains you generate. Furthermore, you will devise, test, and optimise a method for 3-HP extraction from the cultured strains. Finally, throughout the PhD, you will be encouraged to interact with industry to explore routes to market for the IP they develop.

You will receive exceptional training at UEA and CPB in molecular biology, fermentation, analytical and organic chemistry, coastal fieldwork, industrial networking and in writing publications and IP protection. You will learn good laboratory practice, present your findings at weekly team meetings, high-profile international scientific conferences, and in peer-reviewed scientific publications and your PhD thesis.

We require a committed, pro-active and self-reliant student keen to master a wide range of techniques. Experience in some of the key components is desirable.

References

1. Todd JD, Rogers R, Li YG, Wexler M, Bond PL, Sun L, Curson ARJ, Malin G, Steinke M, Johnston AWB. (2007). Structural and regulatory genes required to make the gas dimethyl sulfide in bacteria. Science 315 (5812), 666-669.

2. Todd JD, Curson ARJ, Nikolaidou‐Katsaraidou N, Brearley CA, Watmough NJ, Chan Y, Page PCB, Sun L, Johnston AWB. (2010). Molecular dissection of bacterial acrylate catabolism–unexpected links with dimethylsulfoniopropionate catabolism and dimethyl sulfide production. Environmental microbiology 12 (2), 327- 343.

3. Curson ARJ, Todd, JD, Sullivan MJ and Johnston AWB. (2011). Catabolism of dimethylsulfoniopropionate: microorganisms, enzymes and genes. Nature Reviews Microbiology 9: 849-859.

4. Curson ARJ, Williams BT, Pinchbeck BJ, Sims LP, Martínez AB, Rivera PPL, Kumaresan D, Mercadé E, Spurgin LG, Carrión O, Moxon S, Cattolico RA, Kuzhiumparambil U, Guagliardo P, Clode PL, Raina JB, Todd JD. (2018). DSYB catalyses the key step of dimethylsulfoniopropionate biosynthesis in many phytoplankton. Nature Microbiology. 4: 430-439.

5. Williams BT, Cowles K, Bermejo Martínez A, Curson ARJ, Zheng Y, Liu J, Newton-Payne S, Hind AJ, Li CY, Rivera PPL, Carrión O, Liu J, Spurgin LG, Brearley CA, Wagner Mackenzie B, Pinchbeck BJ, Peng M, Pratscher J, Zhang XH, Zhang YZ, Murrell JC & Todd JD. (2019). Nature Microbiology, 4 (11), 1815-1825.