9 September 2021 The following master thesis is offered at the Chair of Technical Biochemistry:
Genomics in heterologously-transformed Cannabinoid-producing Saccharomyces cerevisiae
About the project
In recent decades, research and pharmacological-use of Cannabis sativa has exploded in popularity due to relaxation of prohibition in many countries around the world. This has created a global demand for cannabinoids and resulted in the development of a lucrative global industry. Traditional cultivation of cannabis has proved to be problematic at industrial scale for many reasons. Most notably, in the past year, Canada and the United States saw that cannabis-supply far exceeded its demand and responded by destroying crops and exporting product at deflated prices. Such problems have destabilized the cannabis market. The cannabis industry could therefore benefit from having an instantaneous-system of cannabinoid production that can be done with a scalable and inexpensive process such as fermentation by microorganisms. The chair of Technical Biochemistry researches, designs and engineers cannabinoid biosynthesis-processes in heterologous-strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This research will optimize cannabinoid-bioproduction by characterizing the impact of genetic engineering on transcriptional- and metabolic- regulation.
This work will involve wet- and dry-bench methods using an Oxford Nanopore MinION Mk1C to sequence the genome and the transcriptome of S. cerevisiae. While opportunities for transcriptomics and metabolomics are available, this research will primarily foucs on genomic acquisition, assembly and alignment. Wet bench methods include cell cultivation, DNA extraction, targeted-PCR and q-RT-PCR, and Oxford Nanopore sequencing. The student will then help to assemble the genome, identify homologs and annotate genes, and compile transcriptomic data. The student should be prepared to research their own methods as appropriate and collaborate with their supervisor on method implementation. The student will work in tandem with the supervisor for data analysis and work independently using the Oxford Nanopore Galaxy cloud computational tool.
A successful student will have a strong background in practical microbiology (aseptic technique, media preparation) and good working-knowledge of cellular and molecular biology. The student should be technologically literate and have aptitude for data-science/bioinformatic analysis. Supervision will be provided 100% in English and the thesis must be drafted in English. Strong communication skills are compulsory.
Cell-based systems engineering is not only for those interested in the cannabis industry. Outside of the cannabis-space, pharmaceutical and chemical companies are increasingly investing in biologics-portfolio development for drugs, polymers, agro-chemicals, and biofuels. The project will be of-interest to those who want to pursue a career in biotech, ag-tech, biochemistry, molecular biology, genetics, bioinformatics, or fermentation sciences. Next generation sequencing (NGS) such as Oxford Nanopore and bioinformatics are highly marketable skills and will be beneficial for an academic career for researchers interested in non-model organisms, microbiomics, virology, or other research fields with rely on sequencing.
Applicants are encouraged to send a letter of motivation including a short description of their background and qualifications. Please contact Ms. Jordan with further questions.
24. November 2020: The following master thesis is offered at the Chair of Technical Biochemistry:
Development of an assay system for the quantification of cannabigerolic acid
Cannabinoids isolated from Cannabis sativa L. have gained increasing importance in medical applications over the last decades. Due to the legal basis, the isolation from plants is very complex and costly, so that biotechnological alternatives are used. The Chair of Technical Biochemistry is working on the production of cannabinoids in Saccharomyces cerevesiae. An important aspect of this is the so-called protein engineering. In rational design, bioinformatics tools are used to predict protein variants that optimize protein function based on different approaches. In order to evaluate the protein variants in parallel and as efficiently as possible, high-throughput screening systems are preferably used.
In this work, a high-throughput screening system for a prenyltransferase will be developed. This system shall be based on the detection of diphosphate as a cleavage product of the enzymatic reaction. By further enzymatic conversions, diphosphate can be quantified by a luminescence signal.
The main part of this work will be in the area of method development, where a robust screening system will be built by step by step construction using our own ideas. A luminometer will be used for this purpose. Through an application to enzymatic reactions in S. cerevisiae, additional experience will be gained in the microbiological field with regard to the cultivation of yeasts. Analytical skills such as the use of HPLC (High-performance-liquid-chromatography) will also be learned.
Willingness and interest in method development and knowledge in handling microbiological organisms should be present. A high motivation for independent work is a basic requirement. In addition, the thesis must be written in English, so a high level of language skills is required.
Applications for this position should be sent to M. sc. Saskia Spitzer with Prof. Dr. Dr. h. c. Oliver Kayser in cc including a letter of motivation and a short description of the study background and existing basic knowledge. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact Ms. Spitzer.