Chemical Engineering Seminar
Microorganisms exhibit complex metabolism and metabolic interactions with their environment, large parts of which remain unknown. Deficiencies in functional annotations of microbial genomes as well as incomplete knowledge of their small molecule repertoires (metabolomes) of microorganisms present major challenges in biofuel development, bioremediation and understanding global carbon cycling. This talk will present the application of mass spectrometry to gain insights into novel metabolic processes. Untargeted mass spectrometry-based metabolomics is used to identify the unexpected metabolites in microorganisms as well as to profile uptake and release of a wide array of compounds. Genes required for metabolite utilization are identified through targeted screening of metabolite utilization in mutant libraries of Escherichia coli K12 and Shewanella oneidensis MR-1. Since genetic tools and mutant libraries are often not available, gene synthesis coupled to protein expression and nanostructure-initiator mass spectrometry (NIMS) screening is used to directly characterization of glycoside hydrolases including from uncultured organisms in the suite of hemicellulose degrading enzymes from Clostridium thermocellum.