Bacterial cellulose (BC) has found applications in the biomedical, food, and cosmetics industries. Gluconacetobacter xylinus has been the model organism for BC biosynthesis. The cellulose produced is of high purity and crystallinity compared to those isolated from wood pulp due to the absence of lignin and hemicellulose. Despite the natural production capacity and the biogenesis knowledge, BC is produced in relatively low quantity and there has been no reported systematic engineering of cellulose production by G. xylinus.
We hypothesize that through rational engineering of G. xylinus, the properties of the cellulose by reverse and forward engineering of the underlying regulatory network as well as controlling the secretion and self-assembly of the cellulose. In this project, our goal is to systematically rewire the natural production cascade to enhance BC production capacity and the self-assembly of microfibrils/nanofibers for the synthesis of tailor-made and customizable cellulose.
The approach will involve a multi-disciplinary and multi-institutional team of bioengineer, geneticist, material scientist, and biochemist. The genetic toolkits, knowledge on the secretion system and microfibril/nanofiber assembly, as well as the analytical and physicochemical characterization tools will provide groundwork for future developments of a synthetic host that is capable of customizable cellulose production.
- The Research Fellow (RF) will be responsible for elucidating the self-assembly mechanism of bacterial cellulose (BC) as it is being produced through modification of cellulose synthase (CS), the enzyme responsible for cellulose polymerization.
- The RF will create library of CS, develop tools to study the assembly of the polymer produced by the bacteria containing the modified CS, and characterize the morphology and mechanical properties of the BC produced in the project.
- The RF will also optimize the bacterial fermentation.
- The first paper is expected to be submitted within 1 year of joining.
- The RF is expected to lead the project and present significant progress towards the deliverables.
- He/She will guide 1-2 doctorate, 1-2 master, and 3-4 undergraduate students.
- The RF will also work with other scientists in the project.
- Ph.D. in Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering / Bioengineering / Molecular Biology; specialization in synthetic biology is highly preferred.
- 2-3 years of working experience in enzyme characterizations and modifications, and/or carbohydrate (cellulose) chemistry as a graduate student or post-doctoral fellow.
- Working experience in enzyme library and screening, basic materials characterizations (microscopy, TEM, SEM, FTIR).
- Working experience in protein production, purifications, and characterizations.
- Working knowledge in carbohydrate (cellulose) chemistry is preferred.
- Highly motivated and dedicated to the development of the project.
- Evidence of research independence and track record of first author publications.
- Excellent laboratory, planning, and leadership skills.
- Ability to integrate well into a team of researchers with different backgrounds, and the ability to learn new techniques.
Interested applicants please send your resume to Assoc Prof Sierin Lim at via SLim@ntu.edu.sg.
Please attach your full CV, with the names and contacts (including email addresses) of 2 character referees, and all relevant academic certificates.
We regret that only shortlisted candidates will be notified.