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Synthetic Biology underpins advances in the bioeconomy

Biological systems - including the simplest cells - exhibit a broad range of functions to thrive in their environment. Research in the Imperial College Centre for Synthetic Biology is focused on the possibility of engineering the underlying biochemical processes to solve many of the challenges facing society, from healthcare to sustainable energy. In particular, we model, analyse, design and build biological and biochemical systems in living cells and/or in cell extracts, both exploring and enhancing the engineering potential of biology. 

As part of our research we develop novel methods to accelerate the celebrated Design-Build-Test-Learn synthetic biology cycle. As such research in the Centre for Synthetic Biology highly multi- and interdisciplinary covering computational modelling and machine learning approaches; automated platform development and genetic circuit engineering ; multi-cellular and multi-organismal interactions, including gene drive and genome engineering; metabolic engineering; in vitro/cell-free synthetic biology; engineered phages and directed evolution; and biomimetics, biomaterials and biological engineering.



BibTex format

author = {Det-Udom, R and Gilbert, C and Liu, L and Prakitchaiwattana, C and Ellis, T and Ledesma, Amaro R},
doi = {10.1186/s12934-019-1149-2},
journal = {Microbial Cell Factories},
title = {Towards semi-synthetic microbial communities: Enhancing soy sauce fermentation properties in B. subtilis co-cultures},
url = {},
volume = {18},
year = {2019}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - BackgroundMany fermented foods and beverages are produced through the action of complex microbial communities. Synthetic biology approaches offer the ability to genetically engineer these communities to improve the properties of these fermented foods. Soy sauce is a fermented condiment with a vast global market. Engineering members of the microbial communities responsible for soy sauce fermentation may therefore lead to the development of improved products. One important property is the colour of soy sauce, with recent evidence pointing to a consumer preference for more lightly-coloured soy sauce products for particular dishes.ResultsHere we show that a bacterial member of the natural soy sauce fermentation microbial community, Bacillus, can be engineered to reduce the ‘browning’ reaction during soy sauce production. We show that two approaches result in ‘de-browning’: engineered consumption of xylose, an important precursor in the browning reaction, and engineered degradation of melanoidins, the major brown pigments in soy sauce. Lastly, we show that these two strategies work synergistically using co-cultures to result in enhanced de-browning.ConclusionsOur results demonstrate the potential of using synthetic biology and metabolic engineering methods for fine-tuning the process of soy sauce fermentation and indeed for many other natural food and beverage fermentations for improved products.
AU - Det-Udom,R
AU - Gilbert,C
AU - Liu,L
AU - Prakitchaiwattana,C
AU - Ellis,T
AU - Ledesma,Amaro R
DO - 10.1186/s12934-019-1149-2
PY - 2019///
SN - 1475-2859
TI - Towards semi-synthetic microbial communities: Enhancing soy sauce fermentation properties in B. subtilis co-cultures
T2 - Microbial Cell Factories
UR -
UR -
VL - 18
ER -