Olfactory receptor-based sensors to accelerate the engineering of
Designer microbes that convert inexpensive sugars into biofuels and bioproducts have the potential to provide a sustainable and cost-effective alternative to the synthesis of chemicals from petroleum. Today, the major challenge in the engineering of microbes for the production of non-colorimetric or non-fluorescent chemicals is to rapidly identify the highest chemical-producing microbe from a pool, akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Current methods rely on chromatography-based technologies for the strain-screening step, which limits the throughput to screening 102 chemical-producing microbes per day. Biosensors that link chemical detection to protein fluorescence will enable the high-throughput screening of chemical-producing microbes (>106 samples per day). The Peralta-Yahya laboratory is pioneering the use of olfactory receptors in yeast as chemical sensors to enable the high-throughput screening of chemical producing microbes. Here, I will present recent work on the development of olfactory receptor-based chemical sensors to rapidly generate sensors for advanced biofuels, specialty chemicals and even non-natural molecules. I will discuss how we are using these sensors for the high-throughput screening of chemical producing microbes, and consider how this throughput now allow us to apply evolutionary approaches to the bioproduction of biofuels and other non-colorimetric chemicals.
Dr. Peralta-Yahya is an assistant professor in the Schools of Chemistry and Biochemistry and Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her research program focuses on developing olfactory receptor-based chemical sensors for applications in metabolic engineering and bioremediation. Dr. Peralta-Yahya has a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Columbia University, where she trained under Prof. Virginia Cornish in the development of high-throughput enzyme screens in yeast. Dr. Peralta-Yahya did her postdoctoral work in the laboratory of Prof. Jay Keasling at the University of California, Berkeley, where she specialized in the engineering microbes for the production of advanced biofuels. Dr. Peralta-Yahya’s independent work has been recognized with a DARPA Young Faculty Award, a DuPont Young Professor Award and the Kavli fellowship.
Molecular Engineering and Sciences Seminar Series
This weekly seminar brings together students, faculty and invited guests from various disciplines across campus to explore current trends in molecular engineering and nanotechnology. It is a forum for active interdisciplinary discussions. These talks are open to the public and attract a diverse audience of students and faculty.