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Optimizing product formation in fungal production systems


Fungal production strains such as Aspergillus niger play a leading role in the large scale production of fine chemicals, proteins and bioactive agents. However, there is only scant understanding of their regulatory mechanisms as well as the dynamics of cellular processes such as protein transport, secretion, and cell morphology. These processes, however, significantly interfere with the efficiency of biotechnological production systems. By applying systems biology and trans-disciplinary approaches, networks of metabolic, transport and regulation related processes are uncovered and modeled. These are then the basis for new and optimized paths in genetic engineering which could overcome the above limitations.

Despite the availability of various fungal expression systems for the production of proteins, enzymes and bulk chemicals, there is still a huge interest of the biotech industry to establish new, superior fungal expression platforms with high yields. The filamentous fungus Thermothelomyces thermophila is a promising candidate strain as it naturally secretes lignocellulosic enzymes at high levels. To understand and optimize T. thermophila as a fungal cell factory, we follow systems biology approaches and develop new synthetic biology tools for this fungus. We do this in cooperation with BASF in Ludwigshafen.

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