Soft and Living Matter Seminar Series: Friday, February 21st, 2020 - Anaerobic fungi: an untapped source of membrane proteins for biotechnological applications

Event Date: 

Friday, February 21, 2020 - 1:30pm

Event Location: 

  • Elings 1601
  • Soft and Living Matter Seminar Series

Membrane proteins are the windows and doors of cells: all cellular membranes have hundreds of different receptors and transporters that the cell uses to communicate with its surroundings and to take up nutrients and secrete waste products. It is becoming increasingly clear that membrane proteins have the potential to increase the efficiency and stability of microbial production strains. In the O’Malley lab, we seek to understand how membrane proteins are involved in the lifestyle of anaerobic fungi. Anaerobic fungi are found in the digestive tracts of herbivorous animals, where they enable the breakdown of raw plant biomass. Transcriptomic analyses revealed that these extraordinary fungi possess a wide variety of transporters and receptors that can be leveraged for the sustainable microbial production of commodity and fine chemicals from plant biomass. Recently we demonstrated that transporter proteins from these fungi can be functionally produced in bakers yeast, boosting its solvent tolerance. Our results serve as a striking example of how the power of these unusual membrane proteins can enhance the performance of industrially relevant yeast.