Model-Based Construction and Optimisation of Versatile Chassis Yeast Strains for Production of Valuable Lipid and Aromatic Compounds

100_1481Why use yeast?

The word ‘yeast’ might conjure up images of crusty bread or a cold pint of beer rather than painkillers for your headache or fuel for your car. Yet yeast is capable of much more than proving bread and producing alcohol. Read more... It is a mini fermentation factory in which chemicals, medicines, fuels, cosmetics and nutraceuticals can be produced. Just as traditional factories are filled with complex steel machinery; yeast cells are packed with complex biological machinery that produce the building blocks of many useful biomolecules. To put it simply; yeast cell factories are fed with nutrients (sugar) and when programmed in the correct way, churn out valuable products in return.

HNature’s mini factories

Europe is moving towards a sustainable, low-carbon economy. Developing a viable bio-based industrial sector is part of this move. In a bio-based economy, biological materials and systems replace traditional production of plastics, cosmetics, solvents and nutraceuticals. Read more... These biological sources and processes are more sustainable, less environmentally damaging, and more locally available than many current methods. There is great potential to use yeast as a microbial cell factory to produce molecules to replace those coming from the oil industry. Yeast is already used to produce important pharmaceuticals and nutrition products like resveratrol (the anti-oxidant found in red wine). It is also widely used for the production of bioethanol and to make precursors for degradable bioplastics.

Arbeiten mit Hefezellen im Labor der Evolva Basel in Reinach BLThe Challenge

So using yeast can benefit the environment, but figuring out how to rebuild or reprogramme a cell so that it produces the desired molecule or product takes a lot of time and money. CHASSY will speed up this process by designing chassis yeasts that are robust and flexible. Read more... These can be the starting point for cell factories customised for different products.  Compare it to a car – the same chassis design is used as the frame for cars with different features and styles. This saves time and money beacause you can customize the car without having to get engineers to redesign the chassis. The scientific principle behind CHASSY is straightforward: the same building blocks are needed to make nutraceuticals and other products in yeast but these building blocks are in short supply. By redesigning a yeast so that it produces a lot of these common building blocks, the yeast is then ready to build many different products of commercial value and in greater amounts. The challenge is to figure out how to get yeast to accumulate the correct building blocks.

hyperaccumulation de TAGThe Science

To achieve its goals, CHASSY combines some of the newest disciplines in science. The first is systems biology, which uses mathematical modelling to tell scientists how a yeast needs to change to accumulate the correct building blocks. Read more... The second is synthetic biology, which is a toolkit that enables those changes to be made. The scientists working on the project are specialists in lots of different areas and they need to collaborate to completely understand the functions of the yeast species they are studying. Once the cells have been studied and the relevant changes have occurred, industry partners will check that the yeast can survive, flourish, and produce the desired compounds under industrial conditions.

Arbeiten mit Hefezellen im Labor der Evolva Basel in Reinach BLThe Context

CHASSY is a 10-partner project funded under the Industrial Leadership Priority of the EU Horizon 2020 Programme. Biotechnology has been identified as one of the Key Enabling Technologies (KET) required to sustain European industrial competitiveness. Read more...
Leadership in enabling and industrial technologies (LEIT) includes the parts of Horizon 2020 focusing on new opportunities for industrial leadership in Key Enabling Technologies (KETs), ICT and Space. These are areas of key industrial competences determining Europe’s global competitiveness. Aiming at new and breakthrough technologies, this part of the programme will contribute to boosting competitiveness, creating jobs and supporting growth. It helps to achieve the EU Industrial policy goals, in particular the goal to bring industry’s weight in the EU’s GDP back to 20% by 2020. It also represents an important component of the EU Strategy for Key Enabling Technologies.