Idun Maria Tokvam Burgos
Background and activities
Project: Modelling and optimizing a microbial consortia that produces medium-chain carboxylates from cellulose
Medium-chain carboxylates, such as caproate and caprylic acid, are products with a wide range of uses, including as insecticides and (after conversion) as fuel or medicine. They can be produced through the carboxylate platform, in which a microbial community of bacteria breaks down cellulose and ferments the constituent sugars. The species in such a community live in different types of symbiosis and can cooperate by exchanging metabolites or compete for limited resources. Microbial communities exist in all nooks and crannies of the world, including the stomachs of vertebrates and soil. Their efficient cooperation, stability to perturbations, and wide range of metabolic functions make them ideal for use in complex processes such as in the carboxylate platform.
The motivation for the project is to make better use of the biowaste produced each year, which otherwise would be sent to landfills. It is a collaboration called Cell4Chem under the ERA CoBiotech umbrella, with partners in Germany, France, Spain, and Slovenia. My task is to generate and use mathematical genome-scale metabolic models to guide the design of the ideal microbial community.
Supervisor: Daniel Machado