Highly Productive Bioprocess with the Use of a Genetic Circuit
Highly Productive Bioprocess with the Use of a Genetic Circuit
  • Reporter Lee Seung-ah
  • 승인 2022.12.10 01:33
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▲Dr. Chae Won Kang (left), Prof. Gyoo Yeol Jung, Dr. Hyun Gyu Lim, and picture of bioprocess
▲Dr. Chae Won Kang (left), Prof. Gyoo Yeol Jung, Dr. Hyun Gyu Lim, and picture of bioprocess

Bacteria, fungi, and microalgae—organisms too small to be seen with the naked eye—are microorganisms that are commonly used for vaccines or fermenters. In 2010, “Mycoplasma mycoides”, an artificial microorganism was developed, which highlighted the technology that is utilized to develop industrial microorganisms such as Escherichia coli and yeast as “cell factories” for producing pharmaceuticals and petroleum substitutes. However, such bioprocess could only use a pure culture of a single strain due to productivity, limiting the number of developable processes.
A joint research team of Professor Gyoo Yeol Jung (Department of Chemical Engineering), Dr. Chae Won Kang (CE), and Dr. Hyun Gyu Lim (CE) at POSTECH with Prof. Jaeyoung Sung (Chung-Ang University, Department of Chemistry) and Ph.D. candidate Jaehyuk Won (Chung-Ang University, Department of Chemistry) developed a new bioprocess by introducing a genetic circuit, “population guider”, into a co-culturing consortium, which induces cooperation among microorganisms to improve productivity.
The research team used a genetic circuit, an important technology in synthetic biology, as a guide for microorganisms. They designed a consortium of Vibro sp. dhg, which utilizes alginate typically found in kelp and other seaweed, and Escherichia coli strain, which produces 3-hydroxy propionic acid (3-HP) that is used as raw material for paints, dyes, fabrics, diapers, for the direct conversion of alginate to 3-HP. The research team introduced a “population guider” genetic circuit into the E. coli strain, which degrades ampicillin only when 3-HP is produced. In the presence of ampicillin as a selection pressure and microorganism cooperation facilitator, the consortium was successfully acclimated, increasing 3-HP production 4.3-fold over the output of a simple co-culturing consortium during fermentation.
Prof. Jung said, “Our findings are the first to suggest that an artificial genetic circuit in multiple microbial strains to prevent their competition from lowering productivity in chemical production. This new technology is acclaimed as an innovation that can secure both higher productivity and flexibility in microbial bioprocesses.”
Meanwhile, this research was supported by grants from the C1 Gas Refinery Program and the Mid-Career Researcher Program by the National Research Foundation of Korea.