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Event date: 04Apr 2019

Thursday 4 Apr 2019

Dr Yosephine Gumulya, CSIRO Land and Water

  • 3.00pm - 4.00pm

Auditorium, 147 Underwood Avenue, Floreat, WA

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Dr Yosephine Gumulya, CSIRO Land and Water
Engineering resilience to green biotechnology

Tuesday 2 April 2019
3.00pm - 4.00pm
Auditorium, 147 Underwood Avenue, Floreat WA


In the burgeoning field of synthetic biology, scientists need to be in a position to develop robust host organisms that can be used efficiently in various industrial processes. Despite the success in enzyme design and metabolic engineering, only a handful of hosts are currently implemented on a large scale, as the main workhorse organism has limited ability to grow in extreme conditions. Extremophilic microorganisms are increasingly considered a valuable asset to synthetic biology and associated industries as they are innately tolerant of environmental extremes and could allow processes to work beyond the normal range. However, engineering extremophiles can be a challenging task, mainly due to the lack of genetic tools, inherent slow growth, low cell yield and impermeable cell membrane. This presentation will focus on the on-going research activities in engineering acidophiles, the microorganisms commonly used in biomining (the process of extracting metals from ores or waste by using microorganisms). With the increasing number of extremophile genomes being sequenced, and in combination with the cutting-edge genome engineering tools, new extremophile chassis can be re-programmed. At present, we are engineering more tolerant acidophiles for biomining processes, aiming to increase the productivity of mineral leaching in the presence of contaminants, such as heavy metals and chloride. A combination of experimental microbial engineering and computational metabolic modelling will be used to construct new extremophiles for other synthetic biology applications.


Dr Yosephine Gumulya is a research scientist with CSIRO Land and Water. After completing her PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Coal Research in Germany and working for food industry in Spain, she held a postdoctoral appointment at the University of Queensland (Australia). In 2016, she obtained Endeavour Research Fellowship to visit the lab of Prof Frances Arnold (Noble Laureate in Chemistry) at California Institute of Technology (US) before joining CSIRO on a FSP Synthetic Biology funded project that aims to engineer extremophiles for the mining industry. She has recently expanded her capabilities into the space technology, trying to engineer microbes for extracting minerals from planetary bodies. Her areas of expertise are industrial biotechnology, protein engineering, directed evolution, microbial engineering, metabolic engineering, transcription network engineering and ancestral protein reconstruction.

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Science areas: General Science

Event type: Conference or seminar