Developing tools to harness the non-model microorganism, Rhodopseudomonas palustris's unique metabolic traits and exploring the breadth of those traits.
Succinic acid (SA) is a precursor to many industrially important chemicals used to manufacture products including active pharmaceutical ingredients, biodegradable plastics, and solvents. SA, currently a petroleum based product, is a viable candidate for bioproduction from corn waste since certain bacteria, such as Actinobacillus succinogenes, can utilize the sugars in corn waste and excrete SA. Our lab is working to use synthetic biology tools to increase the efficiency and stability of SA production by A. succinogenes in order to make the process industrially useful. Achieving levels of bioproduction that are competitive with petroleum based processes would not only create a "greener" method for producing SA, but would also boost the economic importance of currently low cost corn waste, thus helping the environment and the agricultural community.
Engineering Rhodopseudomonas palustris for commercial-scale butanol production via lignin consumption, with the end goal of generating a sustainable and cost effective process to replace fossil-fuel derived products.