Synthetic biology is a fast-growing 21st discipline with transformative potential for Australia. The ARC Centre of Excellence in Synthetic Biology (CoESB) will engineer novel microbial cell factories to help establish an environmentally sustainable advanced biomanufacturing industry.
Such an outcome would increase rural employment and investment, provide new income streams for farmers and improve Australia’s balance of trade.
With a highly collaborative research team from nine academic nodes, government and industry partners and overseas research groups. Our research takes place across three broad themes – Synthetic Microbial Communities, Synthetic Organelles and Neobiochemistry.
SYNTHETIC MICROBIAL COMMUNITIES
Currently all commercial synthetic biology processes use a single designer organism to produce the desired product, but there are many things a single organism can’t do because of incompatible biochemical reactions. Our novel designer microbial communities will work as a team but with each microbe optimised for a specific task. This will enable them to turn sustainable agricultural biomass into industrial biochemicals.
Just as the body has individual organs, every cell has organelles that perform a specific function. We will be moving inside of cells to turn these organelles into tiny reaction vessels for making very high-value compounds. In another world first, we will re-engineer mitochondria, the energy factory of the cell, for the production of pharmaceuticals.
We coined the term NEO biochemistry to describe the new-to-nature enzymes and metabolic pathways that can eventually replace industrial chemicals processes with their greener and more sustainable alternatives. The NEO biochemistry team has a strong emphasis on protein and DNA engineering led by the top Australian Synthetic Biologists.