Novel strategies are needed in order to resolve the challenges we currently face in energy production and global carbon cycling. On the forefront of possible routes to address these challenges is the application of biotechnology to engineer systems for the production of fuels, materials, and the conversion of carbon dioxide into high value products. Current efforts have primarily focused on combining several existing biological parts into systems designed to perform the specific tasks of interest. However, there are many products and routes that will be inaccessible if limited solely to naturally occurring biological parts. Therefore, the development of biological systems to produce products not found in nature will require the design of novel parts. The project focuses on the use of computational protein modeling to search through protein sequence databases and identify proteins that require a minimal number of mutations to perform particular functions of interest related to carbon fixation, biofuel production and energy manipulation. Once identified these sequences can be produced and experimentally characterized for the function of interest.
PIs: Justin Siegel, UC Davis Genome Center and David Baker, University of Washington