Although both standard cellular host systems - E.coli and Yeast - have served the scientific community well, they have some severe limitations when it comes to adapting them to unusual conditions like increased temperature, non-neutral pH, high salt or solvent concentrations etc.
Evolution of host systems that can deal with these extreme conditions would require a lot of mutations taking place at the same time. For example the adaptation to higher temperatures would actually require all proteins in the cell to be evolved for higher thermostability. Furthermore some chemical environments are exclusively man-made, therefore evolution has not probed this terrain.
In order to explore such conditions for biological systems, it will beneficial to first find naturally occurring micro-organisms, which already show some of the traits that would be desired. Preferably, these organisms should also be fast growing (doubling time close to E. coli), grow to high densities, have their genome sequenced and should be genetically tractable.
In my future research I want to establish new host strains that would enable us to use living microbes in chemical contexts that they are naturally not evolved for.
Principal investigators: Dr. Kersten Rabe
Ph.D. Student: Manfred Maier
Ph.D. Student: Ahmed Eid Zoheir