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(UKM GUP) Microbial genome engineering for sustainable production of bioplastic

Project Description

Perennial use of fossil fuel-derived products has brought about alarming concerns of climate change and environmental pollution particularly the harmful effects of recalcitrant waste such as synthetic plastics to the surrounding ecosystem. Presently, innovative green technologies are of great interest especially for the manufacturing of bio-based materials using metabolic engineering and synthetic biology approaches. These biotechnological platforms are further aided with the advancement of systems biology and Omics technologies that have will bring forward an integrated and powerful approach for data-driven bio-product manufacturing using microorganisms as production/fermentation hosts.

In this project, our research group seeks to develop a sustainable and cost-effective platform for the synthesis of biodegradable plastics as recyclable and green alternative to synthetic plastics. For this purpose, this project focuses on employing microbial engineering approach for directing the production of bioplastic monomers from oil palm biomass-derived feedstock. To achieve this, bioplastic biosynthetic and xylose utilization genes will be overexpressed in selected bacterial host using microbial engineering methods already established in our research group. A key aspect of this project is the integration of the gene constructs into the bacterial genome via CRISPR-Cas technology to enable plasmid free-biosynthesis of the bioplastic monomer in the bioengineered bacterial strains. The expected outcome of this project is the bioconversion lignocellulosic waste feedstock to bioplastic monomers by genome-engineered microbes hence representing a new and innovative biorefinery approach for plastic product development from oil palm waste.

This project has been awarded funding from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) Geran Universiti Penyelidikan (GUP) funding scheme. We are looking for self-funded candidates who are interested in pursuing PhD program at the Institute of Systems Biology (INBIOSIS) UKM which hosted state-of-the-art research facilities and vibrant research communities. The student will be based at INBIOSIS UKM and supervised by Dr. Ahmad Bazli Ramzi, the principal investigator of the GUP project in collaboration with Professor Jamaliah Jahim, Associate Professor Dr. Syarul Nataqain Baharum and Dr. Peer Mohamed. This project is carried out in partnership with our industrial partner, Nextgreen Pulp and Paper Sdn. Bhd. with the aim of developing green technology for oil palm waste-based products. The student will also have great opportunities to work with our international collaborators such as the University of Manchester (UK), the University of Nottingham (UK) and Korea University (South Korea).

Contact information;
Dr. Ahmad Bazli Ramzi

Telephone: +603-8921-4546

Funding Notes

Self-funded students or those applying for scholarships are invited to apply. Interested students from countries that are members of the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (ICGEB) and the Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) are most welcome to apply.

More detailed information on the application procedure and entry requirements can be found at View Website


• Ramzi, A. B. 2018. Metabolic engineering and synthetic biology. Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology. Springer New York LLC. p. 81-95.
• Ramzi, A. B., Ku Bahaudin, K. N. A., Baharum, S. N., Che Me, M. L., Goh, H. H., Hassan, M. & Mohd Noor, N. 2018. Rapid assembly of yeast expression cassettes for phenylpropanoid biosynthesis in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Sains Malaysiana. 47 (12): 2969-2974.
• Ramzi, A. B., Hyeon, J. E. & Han, S. O. 2015. Improved catalytic activities of a dye-decolorizing peroxidase (DyP) by overexpression of ALA and heme biosynthesis genes in Escherichia coli. Process Biochemistry 50(8): 1272–1276.
• Ramzi, A. B., Hyeon, J. E., Kim, S. W., Park, C. & Han, S. O. 2015. 5-Aminolevulinic acid production in engineered Corynebacterium glutamicum via C5 biosynthesis pathway. Enzyme and Microbial Technology 81: 1–7.

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