Due to our increasing concerns on the limited fossil resources and environmental problems, bio-based production of chemicals, fuels and materials by microbial fermentation of non-food biomass has become increasingly important. When micro-organisms are isolated from nature, however, they are often inefficient in performing the desired task. Thus, their overall metabolic performance has traditionally been improved by random mutagenesis and selection. Metabolic engineering has emerged two decades ago as a new general strategy for improving the metabolism to perform our desired goals. We are now observing another paradigm shift in developing industrial microorganisms thanks to the rapid advances in systems biology and synthetic biology, which are enabling us to approach biological and biotechnological problems at systems level with abilities to finely design and control the metabolic and regulatory circuits. Thus, it is now becoming possible to perform metabolic engineering at the systems level, that is, systems and metabolic engineering.
In this lecture, I will present the general strategies for systems metabolic engineering of microorganisms for the efficient production of chemicals, fuels and materials. The use of synthetic small regulatory RNAs to engineer metabolism at the systems-level will also be described. Using these strategies, several examples on redesigning cellular metabolism for the production of amino acids, alcohols, diamines, and biopolymers will be described.