Brief description of the participant organisation
The mission of Wageningen University is to develop and apply top-level scientific research and technology, to promote the production of healthy food, and sustain and improve the quality of the environment. Within the Department of Agrotechnology and Food Sciences, the Laboratory of Microbiology (WU-MIB) directed by Prof. W.M. de Vos focuses on genome-wide molecular understanding of microbe-eukaryote interactions, on biotransformations and control mechanisms of bacteria, archaea and fungi. The research is organized in the groups Bacterial Genetics, Molecular Ecology, Microbial Physiology and Fungal Genomics, with in total ca. 100 co-workers. Partner in the METAEXPLORE project is the Molecular Ecology Group (ME), which has recently been further strengthened by the appointment of a special chair Bacterial Metagenomics, and the Bacterial Genetics Group (BG). The Bioprocess Engineering Group (WU-BPE), directed by Prof. R. Wijffels, develops new biotechnological processes for manufacturing of healthy food ingredients, biofuels, biopolymers, pharmaceuticals, and biopesticides. Marine Biotechnology is currently one of the key areas of activity within the group.
Main tasks in the project
The main tasks for this group will be in habitat selection with special attention to recalcitrant halo-organics, including the exploration of a considerable diversity of sponges to exploit the available biodiversity. Wageningen University will perform genetic analysis of halogenases and dehalogenases found. Further they will contribute with host systems for oxygen sensitive enzymes and directed evolution to generate novel variants.
Previous experience relevant to the tasks
Current research within WU-MIB relevant to the tasks focuses on the integrated application of innovative cultivation and molecular methods to understand microbial community composition, functionality and interactions in anaerobic ecosystems, including those relevant for environmental biotechnology and for bioremediation. Recent activities include functional genomics and metagenomics of anaerobic microbiota, and approaches that aim at linking microbial identity and functionality, i.e., SIP of environmental DNA and RNA. WU-MIB has also a strong track record in the application of directed evolution for optimization of biocatalysts. WU-BPE has recently developed strong expertise in the ex vivo cultivation and biotechnological exploitation of marine eukaryotes, namely algae, corals and sponges.
Smidt, H, van der Oost, J, de Vos, WM (2001) Development of a gene cloning and inactivation system for halorespiring Desulfitobacterium dehalogenans. Appl. Environ. Microbiol. 67: 591-597.
Smidt, H, de Vos, WM (2004). Anaerobic microbial dehalogenation. Annu. Rev. Microbiol. 58:43-73.
Brouns, SJ, Wu, H, Akerboom, J, Turnbull, AP, de Vos, WM, van der Oost, J (2005) Engineering a selectable marker for hyperthermophiles. J. Biol. Chem. 280: 11422-11431.
Wijffels, RH (2008) Potential of sponges and microalgae for marine biotechnology. TIBTECH 26: 26-31.
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