Imperial College London

DrRodrigoLedesma Amaro

Faculty of EngineeringDepartment of Bioengineering




+44 (0)20 7584 1113r.ledesma-amaro Website




B702Bessemer BuildingSouth Kensington Campus






Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro is leading a research group at the interface of synthetic biology and metabolic engineering. His research lab is based in the Department of Bioengineering and the Center for Synthetic Biology and Innovation.

Research Interests

Synthetic Biology

The group is interested in using and developing new synthetic biology tools that allow us to precisely manipulate microbial cells in a reliable, predictable and standardized way. In particular, we are interested in those cutting edge techniques that permit a fine tuning of metabolic pathways.

Metabolic Engineering

The manipulation and optimization of microbial metabolic pathways are the keys for biotechnology and a bio-based economy. The research group is highly interested in hacking metabolism using synthetic biology tools to create new properties and enhanced behaviors in microbial cells.  The engineering strategies are not only designed to produce new high-value products or higher amount of pre-existing products but also to facilitate the downstream and upstream parts of the bioprocesses.

Microbial biotechnology and Microbial communities

Microorganisms are important for both industrial bioprocesses and biomedicine (i.e. gut or skin microbiota). The lab is interesting in a wide array of organisms, from yeast (S. cerevisiea and Y. lipolytica), fungus (A. gossypii) and bacteria (E. coli and Acetobacter) to complex microbial consortia (human and industrial microbiota).

Applications in Industrial biotechnology and biomedicine

As a summary the lab is interested in applying the engineered microorganisms using synthetic biology to the production of 1) high-value chemicals and fuels (biodiesel, lipid-derived compounds, food additives, etc) 2) biomaterials for biomedicine and environmental applications (bacterial cellulose) and 3) understanding microbiome and dysbiosis leading to diseases (skin microbiome, wound healing).


For a complete list of publications visit:

Join the group

If you are a highly motivated researcher/student with knowledge/interest in the researches described above and you are looking to join the group, please email us with your CV and motivation (


Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro obtained his PhD at the University of Salamanca under the supervision of Prof. Jose Luis Revuelta, the head of the metabolic engineering group. The PhD thesis is about systems metabolic engineering of A. gossypii for the production of vitamins, nucleosides and lipids. It combines modeling, synthetic biology, systems biology and metabolic engineering techniques and it produced numerous research papers and industrial patents (being currently used by BASF). Before that, Rodrigo coursed an MSc in Microbial Biotechnology at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and two undergraduate degrees (Biotechnology and Chemical Engineering) at the University of Salamanca. During his PhD, Rodrigo was a visiting researcher at Prof. Jens Nielsen's group at Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden), at Prof. Jean-Marc Nicaud at INRA (France) and at Prof. Kamisaka's group at AIST (Japan).

After the PhD, he moved to France thanks to an Agreenskills Marie Curie Fellowship and he performed his postdoc in the group of Jean-Marc Nicaud. Most of his postdoctoral research work was done in the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica. During those years, Rodrigo engineered this organism to 1) produce different compounds (lipids, lipid-derived chemicals, carotenoids, etc), 2) to be able to use low-cost carbon sources such as lignocellulosic materials or starch and 3) to facilitate the recovery of the products by engineering lipid secretion. During the postdoc, Rodrigo has been teaching synthetic biology related subjects at SUP biotech.

In addition, he has experience in organizing international conferences and teaching courses, in editorial activities for several publishing groups and in supervising and evaluating students, projects and researchers. He also has worldwide collaborations in both academia and industry.

Selected Publications

Journal Articles

McCarty NS, Ledesma-Amaro R, 2019, Synthetic biology tools to engineer microbial communities for biotechnology, Trends in Biotechnology, Vol:37, ISSN:0167-7799, Pages:181-197

Gu Y, Lv X, Liu Y, et al., 2019, Synthetic redesign of central carbon and redox metabolism for high yield production of N-acetylglucosamine in Bacillus subtilis, Metabolic Engineering, Vol:51, ISSN:1096-7176, Pages:59-69

Larroude M, Rossignol T, Nicaud J-M, et al., 2018, Synthetic biology tools for engineering Yarrowia lipolytica, Biotechnology Advances, Vol:36, ISSN:0734-9750, Pages:2150-2164

Ledesma-Amaro R, Jiménez A, Revuelta JL, 2018, Pathway Grafting for Polyunsaturated Fatty Acids Production in Ashbya gossypii through Golden Gate Rapid Assembly., Acs Synthetic Biology, Vol:7, ISSN:2161-5063, Pages:2340-2347

Liu J, Li J, Liu Y, et al., 2018, Synergistic rewiring of carbon metabolism and redox metabolism in cytoplasm and mitochondria of aspergillus oryzae for increased l-Malate production, Acs Synthetic Biology, Vol:7, ISSN:2161-5063, Pages:2139-2147

Blount B, Gowers G, Ho JCH, et al., 2018, Rapid host strain improvement by in vivo rearrangement of a synthetic yeast chromosome, Nature Communications, Vol:9, ISSN:2041-1723

Niehus X, Crutz-LeCoq A-M, Sandoval G, et al., 2018, Engineering Yarrowia lipolytica to enhance lipid production from lignocellulosic materials, Biotechnology for Biofuels, Vol:11, ISSN:1754-6834

Park YK, Nicaud JM, Ledesma Amaro R, 2017, The engineering potential of Rhodosporidium toruloides as a workhorse for biotechnological applications, Trends in Biotechnology, Vol:36, ISSN:0167-7799, Pages:304-317

Larroude M, Celinska E, Back A, et al., 2017, A synthetic biology approach to transform Yarrowia lipolytica into a competitive biotechnological producer of β-carotene, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol:115, ISSN:1097-0290, Pages:464-472

Ledesma-Amaro R, Dulermo R, Niehus X, et al., 2016, Combining metabolic engineering and process optimization to improve production and secretion of fatty acids, Metabolic Engineering, Vol:38, ISSN:1096-7176, Pages:38-46

Ledesma Amaro R, Lazar Z, Rakicka M, et al., 2016, Metabolic engineeringof Yarrowia lipolytica to produce chemicals and fuels from xylose, Metabolic Engineering, Vol:38, ISSN:1096-7176, Pages:115-124

Ledesma-Amaro R, Nicaud J-M, 2016, Metabolic Engineering for Expanding the Substrate Range of Yarrowia lipolytica, Trends in Biotechnology, Vol:34, ISSN:0167-7799, Pages:798-809

Kamisaka Y, Kimura K, Uemura H, et al., 2016, Modulation of gluconeogenesis and lipid production in an engineered oleaginous Saccharomyces cerevisiae transformant, Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol:100, ISSN:0175-7598, Pages:8147-8157

Ledesma-Amaro R, Buey RM, Luis Revuelta J, 2016, The Filamentous Fungus Ashbya gossypii as a Competitive Industrial Inosine Producer, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol:113, ISSN:0006-3592, Pages:2060-2063

Ledesma-Amaro R, Nicaud J-M, 2016, Yarrowia lipolytica as a biotechnological chassis to produce usual and unusual fatty acids, Progress in Lipid Research, Vol:61, ISSN:0163-7827, Pages:40-50

Buey RM, Ledesma-Amaro R, Velazquez-campoy A, et al., 2015, Guanine nucleotide binding to the Bateman domain mediates the allosteric inhibition of eukaryotic IMP dehydrogenases, Nature Communications, Vol:6, ISSN:2041-1723

Ledesma-Amaro R, Serrano-Amatriain C, Jimenez A, et al., 2015, Metabolic engineering of riboflavin production in Ashbya gossypii through pathway optimization, Microbial Cell Factories, Vol:14, ISSN:1475-2859, Pages:1-8

Ledesma-Amaro R, Dulermo T, Nicaud JM, 2015, Engineering Yarrowia lipolytica to produce biodiesel from raw starch, Biotechnology for Biofuels, Vol:8, ISSN:1754-6834

Ledesma-Amaro R, Kerkhoven EJ, Luis Revuelta J, et al., 2014, Genome Scale Metabolic Modeling of the Riboflavin Overproducer Ashbya gossypii, Biotechnology and Bioengineering, Vol:111, ISSN:0006-3592, Pages:1191-1199

Ledesma-Amaro R, Santos MA, Jimenez A, et al., 2014, Strain Design of Ashbya gossypii for Single-Cell Oil Production, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Vol:80, ISSN:0099-2240, Pages:1237-1244

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