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Yeast engineering for enhanced triterpenoid production

  • Full or part time
    Prof S Rosser
    Dr S Wallace
  • Application Deadline
    Sunday, March 31, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

This PhD is a joint research project between the Rosser Group ( at the University of Edinburgh and Unilever. There is a demand for surfactants derived from renewable and sustainable feedstocks to reduce environmental impact and the reliance on surfactants from petrochemical sources. The saponins are a structurally diverse group of glycosylated triterpenoids and sterols which are natural surfactants. They are triterpenoids that are products of the mevalonate pathway in yeast. The mevalonate pathway has been extensively studied and optimised in yeast due to its importance in the production of a wide range of high value products such as pharmaceuticals (e.g. the antimalarial drug artimesinin and taxol), flavour and fragrance compounds (e.g. sclareol and limonene) and biofuels (e.g. pinene). Development of a yeast saponin production platform has been progressed by Unilever and the Rosser group at the University of Edinburgh (UoE) and has successfully demonstrated saponin production in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisae by co-expressing plant derived heterologous proteins.
This PhD will build on this preliminary work using an innovative strategy of engineering yeast organelles to enhance triterpenoid production in yeast to enable higher yields for commercial applications. A number of organelle engineering strategies will be investigated and the impact on triterpenoid production evaluated. Where appropriate, engineering strategies will be combined into a “super-producing” strain. The triterpenoids produced will be recovered for testing during the industrial placement with Unilever. During the placement, the student will access state of the art automated physical property testing and performance evaluation automated capabilities in the Unilever Lab at the Materials Innovation Factory, Liverpool

Funding Notes

The studentship will commence October 2019 and is funded by a 4 year BBSRC IBioIC studentship with Unilever.
Application Deadline: 31 March 2019.

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Related Subjects

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