Metabolomics and Metabolic Engineering

Metabolomic studies allow the research and optimization of the main metabolic fluxes in a cell. They also allow the reconstruction of the cell metabolism from a sequenced genome as well as the design of totally novel pathways/cells “in silico” which can then be constructed experimentally using genetic engineering tools.

In the last years we have been extremely successful in investigating recombinant and nonrecombinant yeast and E.coli cells as well as, for the first time, reconstructing bacterial metabolism active in microbial leaching processes. Presently we are incorporating new pathways into E.coli and yeast, firstly “in silico” using metabolic flux analysis (MFA), metabolic flux balances (MFB) and metabolic control analysis (MCA) in order to design potential pathways with appropriate energy (ATP), reducing power and H+, C and O supply to utilize novel carbon sources (e.g. lipids mannose, xylose). Recently we have started an international collaboration on isolation of microorganisms (Streptomyces and others) with unique properties from the Atacama Desert (e.g. novel antibiotics and anticancer drugs). After genome sequencing our group is carring out the metabolic reconstruction of these strains. In the last 2 years we have had an important collaboration with the company BAL Chile in carrying out the Metabolic Flux Analysis of the yeast strains they have developed for the conversion of the carbohydrates present in brown Macroalgae (kelp) into biofuels and chemicals.