One of the major challenges in the engineering of microbes for the production of chemicals is the rapid identification of the highest chemical-producing microbe from a pool, akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Chromatography-based methods for the strain-screening step limit the screening throughput to ~100 chemical-producing microbes per day. Biosensors that link chemical detection to fluorescence have the potential to enable the screening of more than a million chemical-producing microbes per day. Here, I will present work on the rapid engineering of olfactory receptor-based sensors to detect different chemicals from advanced biofuels and pharmaceutical-like compounds. We are now using these sensors for the high-throughput screening of chemical producing microbes, and considering how this throughput now allow us to apply evolutionary approaches to the bioproduction of non-colorimetric chemicals.
Pamela Peralta-Yahya graduated from Macalester College in 2003 with a double major in Chemistry and Biology. She earned her Ph.D. with Prof. Virginia Cornish at Columbia University and was a postdoctoral researcher under the advice of Prof. Jay Keasling at the University of California, Berkeley/ Joint BioEnergy Institute. Pamela is currently an assistant professor in the School of Chemistry and Biochemistry at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her group works at the interphase of biochemistry and engineering and focuses on two research areas: the engineering of G-protein coupled receptor (GPCR)-based chemical sensors for biotechnology and biomedical applications, and the microbial synthesis of chemically modified plant alkaloids to accelerate the synthesis of pharmaceuticals. She has won several awards including the DARPA Young Faculty Award, the DuPont Young Professor Award, Kavli Fellowship and more recently the NIH MIRA Award
Host: Prof Stefan France (firstname.lastname@example.org)