Blog

Event
TalTech Science Day 2022

On April 29, TalTech Science Day 2022 event took place at the Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology. Food Tech and Bioengineering group organised a workshop “Future food from microbes”. The workshop was devoted to the production of bread and introducing yeast-based cell factories. Participants were introduced to bread baking technologies and experiments improving nutritional value of bread and beyond. The general feedback of the workshops was very positive, 86 % of participants graded it with 9 or 10 in a 10-point scale. More about the workshop, in pictures.

Altogether, Science Day 2022 at Department of Chemistry and Biotechnology offered 19 different workshops that were attended by 89 participants. Majority of workshop participants were high school students, but almost every 4th participant was from outside educational system. Next time it is going to be more focused on high school students and is planned for the next year 2023.

People
Students of the MSc. Biological and Chemical Engineering for a Sustainable Bio-economy

Four Erasmus Mundus Students of the MSc. Biological and Chemical Engineering for a Sustainable Bio-economy joined our group until June. Ariyan Amirifar, Belén Fernández de Caleya Ramiro, George William Ssendagala and José Gustavo Varona García will develop a metabolically engineered yeast strain of R. toruloides that will use lignocellulosic biomass (Brewer’s Spent Grain – BSG) as a substrate to produce monoterpenes. The produced terpenes shall be used (instead of hops) during fermentation to produce the distinctive beer flavor. This project will ultimately contribute to circularity in the brewing industry by supporting the valorization of BSG to create a useful product that can in turn be used by the same brewing industry.

Event
Seminar by Dr. Francesco Gatto, co-founder and CSO of Elypta

In this seminar, Dr. Francesco Gatto illustrates how his group investigated regulation of cancer metabolism using systems biology approaches leading to the discovery of potential cancer biomarkers for early detection. The talk further focuses on the challenge to translate fundamental discoveries in clinical practice and the foundation of Elypta – a start-up university spin-off that is executing this transition.

Media
PhD seminar

On Friday 18th of february, our three freshly started PhD students gave a seminar to introduce their working plans.

  1. Alina Reķena – Advanced modeling approaches in yeast

The presentation introduced basic principles of constraint-based modeling together with advanced modeling techniques, such as proteome allocation and thermodynamics-based constraints. Current project is focused on model development for non-conventional yeast Rhodotorula toruloides.

2. Gabriel Luz Chaves – Engineering R. toruloides for improved lipid production

In this seminar was discussed the use of non-conventional yeast, R. toruloides, for the production of lipids and the application of synthetic biology tools for strain improvement.

3. Henrique Sepulveda – Development of 3D printed engineered living materials for growth-decoupled biochemicals production

The topics of 3D printing and engineered living materials for biochemicals production was introduced in this seminar. Followed by a talk about our current research goals for the Ph.D. Project.

From left: Gabriel, Henrique and Alina

 

Feel free to watch the seminar record

Projects
Pilot up-scale cultivations

In the course of the PERFECOAT project, Nemailla Bonturi and Petri Lahtvee visited Technical University of Munich (TUM, Straubing, Germany) to perform for the first time to our knowledge industrial scale (30L bioreactor) cultivations of R. toruloides in xylose-rich hydrolysate (Fibenol, Estonia).

Slide Anja Schmid (TUM), Torben Hüsing (TUM),
Petri-Jaan Lahtvee (Taltech),
and Nemailla Bonturi (Taltech)
Slide Redish frozen pellet of R. toruloides
biomass containing high content of carotenoids.
Slide Coating material produced
using R. toruloides biomass
as binders.

        
Media
Opinion article in the Estonian cultural magazine Vikerkaar

The Estonian cultural magazine Vikerkaar published a series of opinion articles on novel technologies influencing humans in the coming decades. Associate professors Erkki Karo and Petri-Jaan Lahtvee from TalTech discussed the influence of biorevolution and synthetic biology – ‘The third coming of biorevolution in the era of the Green Deal’.

The article is available (only in Estonian) here.

Projects
New collaboration supported by Yeast4Bio

In autumn 2021, Alina Rekena from our group was visiting Heinemann Lab from Molecular Systems Biology research group led by Prof. Dr. Matthias Heinemann at University of Groningen, the Netherlands, to work on the development of thermodynamics-based computational models for non-conventional yeasts. The visit was supported by Yeast4Bio Short Term Scientific Mission program. Alina learned how to develop computational models integrated with biochemical thermodynamics, including Gibbs energy balance, and worked on a core metabolic model of Rhodotorula toruloides. The productive collaboration with Heinemann Lab will enhance the competences in systems biology of our group, help to study metabolic properties of non-conventional yeasts and to use computational tools to design efficient yeast-based cell factories, which is the topic of Alina’s PhD studies.

EventProjects
Estonian Bioeconomy conference

Collaboration project between TalTech, University of Tartu and Life-science University together with three Estonian ministries  – ADDVAL-BIOEC – Added value in Estonian bioeconomy – with a strong contribution also from our Bioengineering group is finishing. The collected research will be presented at the conference on October 26th, 2021, at Erinevate Tubade Klubi, Telliskivi 60-A1, Tallinn (event language is Estonian).

 

More information: www.taltech.ee/biomajandus

Register to the event: https://forms.gle/hiUc9MCBefLsPePi8

Event
Guest seminar by Sergio Bordel

You are welcome to participate in the following guest seminar.

 

Prof. Sergio Bordel Velasco

Department of Chemical Engineering and Environmental Technology, University of Valladolid, Spain

Title: Metabolism of methanotrophic bacteria. A Genome-Scale modeling perspective.

When: Thursday, October 14th at 4 PM

Where: SCI-028 (on-line link will follow)

 

Link to publications: https://scholar.google.com/citations?hl=en&user=I2K5LLUAAAAJ

Host: Assoc. Prof. Petri-Jaan Lahtvee

Projects
Yeast4Bio Training School

On September 13-17h happened the first Yeast4Bio Training School financed by the COST agency and  coordinated by Jose L. Martinez (Associate Professor and Head of Fermentation core in the Technical University of Denmark). Our group member, Gintarė Liudžiūtė learned there fundamental knowledge of fermentation design and analysis applied to non-conventional yeasts which are used as cell factories for high-value compounds production. Attending to the first Yeast4Bio Training School was a significant personal and professional opportunity to develop scientific competences into our group.

EventProjects
Yeast4Bio COST Action meeting in A Coruna, Spain

It was a great pleasure to visit the COST Action Yeast4Bio bi-annual conference in A Coruna, Spain and chair a session on non-conventional yeast Systems and Synthetic Biology together with Prof. Rodrigo Ledesma-Amaro.

Two days full of exciting scientific discussions!!! Thank you to all the speakers and participants for creating such a nice environment and Prof. Christian Kennes @UDC_gal for organising it. #bioeconomy #nonconventionalyeast #bioproducts

More info on Yeast4bio: https://yeast4bio.eu/
Event
Seminar

On the 28th of October 2021 (14h- 16h) a seminar will be given by Petri-Jaan Lahtvee (Assoc. Professor) on Circular Economy at ALU Freiburg (Germany), one of the partner in the Local Electron Delivery in Bioinks for Efficient Yeast Cell Factories project. 

This project of the Baltic-German University Liaison Office is supported by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) with funds from the Foreign Office of the Federal Republic Germany.

 

Here the link to access the conference

https://uni-freiburg.zoom.us/j/66501878693?pwd=Sk1WQk1HNXpIdlBIRjhJWGlSYVB0QT09

 

People
New students

Two new students have joined the group. Supported by Dora Plus scholarship both PhD students from Brazil, Luísa Czamanski and Julianno Sabedotti De Biaggi, will work 6 and 3 months on R. toruloides, respectively. Luísa will focus on engineering R. toruloides strains capable of producing terpenes, which have a wide range of applications such as precursors of renewable fuels. Julianno will focus on R. toruloides carotenoid metabolism by expressing the enzyme phytoene desaturase from multiple phyla of Fungi in Escherichia coli and analysing its activity on different substrates in vitro.

People
New student
 Artjom Tšitšerin, a high school student at Tallinn Central Russian Gymnasium, has joined our group to curate the carotenoid pathway by investigating whether overexpressing an heterologous xylulokinase in R. Toruloides could improve carotenoid yield.