School of Engineering

Projects

Systems biology of fatty acid biosynthesis in marine microorganisms

There is increasing demand for biomass rather than petroleum to provide natural and pure industrial chemicals. However, one enormous challenge is to develop a range of bioprocesses, which can convert or process chemically complex biological mixtures into pure chemicals that industry needs. Nature already processes biological materials using complex arrays of enzymes, which form carefully regulated biosynthetic / biodegradative pathways. The majority of known industrial enzymatic processes, which produce pure chemicals, are based on enzyme systems from terrestrial organisms. However, not only is the sea a major source of biomass (for food and energy), it is becoming an increasingly significant source of biomass for the production of fine chemicals. In addition, the diversity of marine organisms is known to be greater than any other environment and remains relatively untapped. This project will focus on the natural processing of fats and oils in the marine habitat and specifically by marine microorganism.