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Metabolic engineering of novel kavalactones using yeast quiescent cells

  • Full or part time
    Dr T Pluskal
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, February 23, 2020
  • Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Competition Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

Project Description

Metabolic engineering is a modern approach for the production of high-value molecules using enzymatic biosynthetic systems, typically expressed in microbes. One of the challenges in metabolic engineering is balancing the utilization of nutrients between cellular growth and the biosynthesis of the target molecules. The goal of this project is to explore the use of genetically- or environmentally-induced cellular quiescence in yeast as a platform for metabolic engineering that may enable redirecting all cellular resources into the expressed biosynthetic machinery and therefore generate much higher yields of target molecules. This new strategy will be demonstrated and optimized using the biosynthetic pathway of kavalactones, a class of psychoactive polyketides from the Polynesian herb kava, which has well-established anti-anxiety properties.

How to apply

To apply for a PhD study at IOCB Prague, you must hold a Master’s degree (MSc) or the equivalent of the MSc in similar field (four or five year undergraduate degree). The application can be submitted before obtaining the Master’s degree, however, the applicant should obtain the degree within five months after the application deadline.

For more information visit our website “Call for PhD applications 2020”:

If you decided to apply, please do so online via our application form:

Funding Notes

Regular monthly income of students at IOCB Prague varies depending on the faculty scholarship and supervisor's financial options.


Keasling, J. D. Manufacturing molecules through metabolic engineering. Science 330, 1355–1358 (2010)

Sagot, I., and Laporte, D. The cell biology of quiescent yeast–a diversity of individual scenarios." J Cell Sci 132, jcs213025 (2019)

Pluskal, T. et al. The biosynthetic origin of psychoactive kavalactones in kava. Nat Plants 5, 867–878 (2019)

Related Subjects

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