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Diversifying and valorising biomass based products
In essence, this network centres around genomic and systems biology approaches to diversifying and valorising biomass- based products. Biomass has the potential to form the foundation of a wide range of high value innovative substitutes for the chemicals industry. Examples of markets where interest is already emerging include polymers, solvents, resins and surfactants/detergents. Although a number of challenges face the development of chemicals from biomass there are reasons to be optimistic that these challenges can be met. In particular, the diversity and nature of the chemical platforms offered could prove to be an opportunity for real innovation. It is also possible that higher value fine products may be identified from biomass crops thus opening up new and potentially highly diverse opportunities for a range of different markets. To develop sustainable and economically attractive biomass-based product chains it is essential to integrate research activities and to continually scrutinise the direction of the research using appropriate techno-economic and sustainability analyses. To achieve this an interacting community is needed that combines feedstock producers with chemists and process engineers, and which draws together the necessary scientific disciplines (such as crop sciences, genomics, systems biology, synthetic biology, microbiology, chemistry, engineering and mathematics) to identify and develop viable routes to marketable products. These products must meet the scrutiny of full sustainability criteria, thus links with social, environmental and economic scientists will be essential.
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Engineering microbial communities for industrial biotechnology applications
Discussion thread on microbial communities
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FAQ
Any questions? Check here first before emailing nibb@bbsrc.ac.uk.
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Filamentous Fungi IB Network
The filamentous fungi are an important and diverse group of organisms with respect to biotechnology, including organisms currently used for the production of primary and secondary metabolites, a wide range of native enzymes and several species which are used for production of heterologous proteins for a wide range of applications. We would like to suggest the establishment of a network around this broad group of organisms which would include those species currently used in white biotechnology (e.g. species of Aspergillus, Trichoderma, Penicillium) but could also extend to include plant and animal pathogens and symbionts. Though the potential objectives would be diverse, there is a broad community within the UK and across Europe with appropriate expertise that would benefit from this opportunity to interact and develop new initiatives. Areas of interest include: Screening for new sources of a wide range of primary and secondary metabolites, and enzymes. The diversity of fungi offers great potential for product discovery, employing cross-disciplinary approaches that include metabolomics, (meta)genomics, bioinformatics, molecular biology and chemistry. The development of novel screens, and the association of genes and gene clusters with products would underpin advances in production. Synthetic biology tools: there is a continuing need to develop effective, robust, regulated expression systems and selectable markers for genome manipulation, suitable for industrial application and adapted to particular relevant organisms. Improved methods for genetic recombination between strains, including sexual, should be developed. Strain engineering: much of current fungal-based biotechnology depends on the use of fungal strains developed from mutagenesis and screening programmes. Utilising genome sequencing allied to new approaches in defining trait loci we may be able to uncover and selectively introduce key changes, as well as engineer other rational modifications based on an improved understanding of transcriptional and pathway regulation. Improved bioprocessing of filamentous fungi in reactors that are relevant to biotechnological conditions. Mark Caddick, David Archer
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Functional Materials from Nature
We are interested in forming a network aimed at the development of new functional biomaterials. A network should cover the full spectrum of expertise from the biological generation of molecules and materials in organisms, through their characterization, functionalization and manipulation to provide new functional materials both for current and future innovative applications. EXPERTISE: Plant sciences Industrial Biotechnology Materials science and engineering Polymer sciences Chemical sciences Biomedical Sciences APPLICATIONS: Structural materials – composites, self-healing, self-indicating Soft materials – hydrogels, hierarchical systems Biomedical materials – drug delivery, tissue engineering RELEVANT INDUSTRY SECTORS: Aerospace Automotive Packaging Healthcare EXEMPLARY THEMES: 1. High performance ‘smart’ composites from biological sources (e.g., self-healing structural materials and self-indicating packaging) 2. Hierarchically structured soft materials for controlled release and triggered response (e.g., theranostics) 3. Biomimetic materials, including environmentally responsive materials, and degradable structures 4. Lightweight materials (e.g., aerogels) and materials exhibiting mechanical enhancement
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Genotype to Metabolic Phenotype Network
A network to improve the deciphering of metabolic capabilities of sequenced microorganisms of industrial interest
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Glycosciences IBBE Network
We are planning to put together an application for a IBBE network in glycoscience technology and applications. We are currently considering to include broad areas of glycoscience (Health, Materials and Energy). Comments and expressions of interest welcome! Please see attached an outline of ideas. In short, he aims of the network are: (i) Tools development including synthesis, analysis, enzymology, synthetic biology and bioinformatics of carbohydrates. (ii) Development of integrated industrial biotechnology platforms for the exploitation of carbohydrates and glycoconjugates derived from biomass into different commodities for healthcare, materials and enery production. (iii) Engagement of biotech industry by education and provision of tools and products (e.g in the analysis and production of (glyco)biopharmaceuticals; diagnostics; production of new materials; renewable energy). (iv) Engagement and education the general scientific community and the public on the pervasiveness and importance of the glycosciences, and the future opportunities it holds.
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HIgh Value Chemicals From Plants
The BBSRC strategic plan for industrial biotechnology has been informed by the 2010 Department of Business Innovation and Skills report entitled ‘Horizon Scanning and Road Mapping for Industrial Biotechnology through to 2025. This report identified four main strategic objectives that need to be met to enable UK plc to become the global leader in certain industrial biotechnology products, processes and/or technologies and IPR generating research by 2025. The third of these objectives was for the ‘UK to become a top three producer of high value chemicals from plants by 2025. The scale of the economic opportunity associated with the extraction of high value chemicals from plants was summarised in the same report. Plant-derived drugs represent 5.5% of the total pharmaceutical industry with sales revenue of £18 billion, Oils and fats derived from oil-crops have a global market size of £500 million - £1 billion and functional foods and nutraceuticals have a global market of £45 billion. Other important applications and market sectors ranging from personal care to flavor and fragrance also rely increasingly on chemicals from plants as there is a growing demand for green, environmentally friendly and sustainable feedstocks across industrial sectors. A number of barriers were identified that need to be overcome in order to deliver on objective 3. A main step needing to be addressed relates to ‘developing a coordinated critical mass of academic expertise focused on identifying novel products and optimising and developing both feedstocks and processes in planta’. It will also require additional bio and chemical transformation of plant derived chemicals and in some cases the development of alternate microbial based production systems where these prove more economical, robust and sustainable. The High Value Chemicals From Plants network will contribute directly to the delivery of Objective 3 of the BIS report. Industry will play a critical role with industrialists being close working partners with academia rather than distant stakeholders. Our aim is to develop long-term strategic relationships between academia and UK industry. We will engage with both multinationals across the main sectors and SMEs. Platform technologies focused on this objective will relate to Bioactive Discovery, Feedstock Development (which will include molecular breeding, metabolic engineering and new production platforms), Extraction and Processing Technologies, Biotransformation, Chemical Transformation and Product Evaluation. Socio Economic and Life Cycle Analysis will be employed on a case by case basis.
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Lignin Chemo- and Bio-Conversion Network 0 3 16 RSS (Opens New Window)
Meeting Separation Challenges in Industrial Biotechnology
Discussion thread on Meeting Separation Challenges in Industrial Biotechnology
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Metals in Biology
An idea for a network that would engage chemists and physicists and well as biologists. There is already a partially fragmented international community that could be pulled closer together. Leaders in metalloenzyme biology and chemistry already exist in the UK. The key to its success would be if it could attract industrial members.
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Microalgal IB network
Microalgae represent a rich diversity of marine and freshwater microorganisms that has been largely unexplored in terms of their biotechnological potential. Currently, only a few species are grown commercially: either for high value antioxidants (e.g. astaxanthin and beta-carotene) and long-chain fatty acids (omega-3 and omaga-6 LC-PUFAs) for the health and food industry; or as whole-cell feed for aquaculture. Recently there has been intense interest and research investment in microalgal lipids as feedstock for biofuels, and as a result significant advances are now being made in strain selection, genetic manipulation, industrial cultivation and downstream processing. This research has also focused attention onto the potential of microalgae as fast growing, phototrophic platforms that can be cultured in closed reactor systems (rather than open ponds) for the production of high-value compounds. These compounds include specialty oils, terpenoids, pigments, starches and bioactives that have existing or potential applications in sectors such as pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals and cosmetics. Furthermore, the application of synthetic biology to microalgae opens up whole new areas of exploitation in which species are used as chassis for the production of novel bioactive compounds, therapeutic proteins, edible vaccines, etc.. However, the creation of this new disruptive technology requires that the UK research base in algal biotechnology is optimally coordinated and sufficiently funded to allow the development the necessary underpinning know-how, and to foster collaborative links with industry and key stakeholders. This new technology will require the integrated efforts of a range of disciplines including phycologists, genetic engineers, biochemists, systems biologists, biochemical engineers, process engineers, experts in LCA, etc., and the harnessing of existing resources including culture collections, large-scale cultivation facilities, and existing academic and industrial research in strain improvement and exploitation. The goal is therefore to create a national network in microalgal IB that is focused on establishing both the biological resources and engineering expertise for the economic production of novel, high-value compounds. Key to this is to create synergy and cohesion within the research community; to strengthen communication and collaboration with industry both in the UK and abroad; to address the need for capacity building and training of the next generation of UK algal scientists, and to address the basic research bottlenecks (particularly at the interface of biology and engineering) through proof-of-concept funding. Saul Purton (UCL)
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Microbial Fuel Cells for adding value to mixed waste streams
Discussion thread on Microbial Fuel Cells for adding value to mixed waste streams
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Natural Products Discovery and Bioengineering Network
Discussion thread: This post is intended to establish a discussion into a proposed Natural Products Discovery and Bioengineering Network.
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Network in Biocatalyst Discovery, Development and Application
Discussion thread on Biocatalyst Discovery, Development and Application
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Network in Multiscale Modelling
The aim of the network is to co-ordinate the UK community in their work on modelling methodologies required to underpin industrial biotechnology and bioenergy. The methodologies will aim to integrate modelling of molecules, pathways, communities and processes. The network will bring together approaches that can assist many of the other networks that focus on a particular application, often in a focussed set of organisms. The network will act as a resource for the other networks, academic institutions and industry to be able to review the range of modelling and identify that most suited to their needs. In addition, the network will address the problems of integrating across scales leading to advances in modelling. A major aim of the network will be in training, in particular running workshops to assist the experimental groups understand the range , power and limitation of modelling. The network would welcome members with core methods of measuring features required to model, such as transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics. Michael Sternberg Imperial College m.sternberg@imperial.ac.uk
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Network in Synthetic Biology for Sustainable Chiral Molecule Production
Discussion thread on how to create new and existing chiral molecules and fine chemicals using novel enzymes and pathways with renewable inputs.
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Network Proposal: Next Generation Cell Factories
Cells are at the heart of many biomanufacturing systems, utilised to produce a diverse range of bioproducts; from industrial chemicals to complex biopharmaceuticals. In the majority of cases bioindustrial cell factories are obtained by relatively simple single gene/construct genetic manipulation and/or screening processes that do not harness an underlying engineering design approach. This network would foster cross-disciplinary approaches that broadly aim to apply the engineering design paradigm (measure-model-manipulate-manufacture) to create cell factories with predicable functionality. For example: • Enhancing cell productivity. • Control of product quality and molecular processing. • Enhancing manufacturability of novel bioproducts. • Integrating cell factory function into whole process design (e.g. upstream/downstream interface). • Reducing timelines from product definition (e.g. a gene sequence or molecular structure) to viable cell factory creation. An important emphasis would be to integrate knowledge and best practice across a variety of cell-based manufacturing systems (and bioindustrial partners), from microbes to mammalian cells, concentrating on tools and technological innovations that underpin directed engineering of complex biological processes that together define the in vitro performance of cell factories. For example, how can we: 1. Apply synthetic biology in a biotechnological context relevant to industrial partners, rather than as purely abstract exercise to create biological clocks and switches etc? 2. Link analytical technologies to feedback control of cell factory function during production processes? 3. Apply computational and systems modelling to the directed design of cell factory function – predictable cells, predictable processes? 4. Utilise genome-level datastreams to predict and improve cell performance? This has to be a cross-disciplinary exercise, involving biologists, engineers, computational modellers and bioinformaticians.
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Next Generation Tools for Industrial Biotechnology
In order to lessen our dependence on fossil energy and achieve climate change goals, a transition towards a renewable bio-based economy for the production of chemicals, materials, fuels and energy will be essential. Further, the January 2013 report from the Industrial Biotechnology (IB) Leadership Forum, has estimated that the global IB market in 2025 will be approximately £360 billion. By combining academic innovation with industrial engagement, together with a supportive business environment, it is anticipated that the development of IB in the UK could add £12 billion to our economy. However, for this substantial potential to be realised, it is clear that there is a significant requirement for the development of cornerstone technologies to underpin the anticipated advancement of IB within the UK. Following extensive discussions with both academia and industry we have therefore initiated a network for the generation of key tools to help drive the development of IB within the UK academic and industrial communities. We envisage significant scope for this network in the development of technologies across a broad sweep of areas relevant to IB that are likely to include: • systems and synthetic biology • genomics • chemical biology • synthetic genomics • high throughput screening • metabolomics • bioinformatics • chemical process engineering • product engineering For example, the opportunities facilitated by synthetic genomics extend beyond the limited pathway and gene engineering of the past to include the rationale design of whole metabolomes, regulatory networks and possibly even complex ecosystems. However, in order for this potential to be realised, certain limitations and barriers must first be overcome. Thus, there is now an urgent requirement to role out emerging synthetic genomics methodology beyond the limited microbial species where it is currently applicable. Further, there is a necessity for major developments in new bioinformatic software built around the need for genomic design rather than genome analysis. Another suggested aim of this network could be the further development of emerging genome-rewriting tools derived from bacterial systems. This could be driven by bio mining for novel bacterial systems amongst extremophile collections or the adaption of existing rewriting systems for new target organisms by enzyme evolution. There is also vast scope for the development of novel high throughput screening technologies to drive the identification of lead compounds that modulate biological processes pertinent to IB or the selection of microbial strains for specific functions. It is envisaged the exploitation of novel screens with high sensitivity, accuracy, and speed will provide a platform for the development of a variety of biological assays, facilitating the identification of key small molecule, peptide and protein leads relevant to the IB community. Clearly, there are also manifold opportunities at the interface of chemistry and biology. Thus, another aim of this network would be to develop technologies enabling the rapid identification of target enzymes relevant to IB from pre-existing natural product pathways or their rationale design from prior knowledge or directed evolution. The development of better technologies including software to integrate deep sequencing derived transcriptomic data with proteomics and metabolomics information would also be extremely beneficial. Thus, more easily linking gene and protein expression with the accumulation of target metabolites, facilitating the identification of previously unknown biochemical pathways and their cognate genes and proteins. In addition, it will also be important to understand the possible impact of these advancing technologies to society. Therefore, another aim of this network would be active engagement with social scientists and government.
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Novel biofilm removal strategies
This is a network of physicists, chemists and biologist interested in novel strategies for the removal and prevention of biofilms on surfaces. Biofilm formation is a key challenge in a broad range of industries, for example in biotechnology manufacturing, consumer and industrial laundry, medical devices and biosensors, and marine structures. The grand challenges addressed by this network will benefit from the diversity of those involved and the novel ideas and knowledge generated will be applied creatively to these industries. This will create and enhance the competitive advantage for industry via the development of new products, boosting reliability of equipment and devices and improving productivity. This network grows out of the Biosurf consortium established with support of the N8 group of northern research intensive universities.
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