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Current Opinion in Biotechnology

Jefferson S Plegaria, Cheryl A Kerfeld
Bacterial microcompartments (BMCs) are organelles that encapsulate enzymes involved in CO2 fixation or carbon catabolism in a selectively permeable protein shell. Here, we highlight recent advances in the bioengineering of these protein-based nanoreactors in heterologous systems, including transfer and expression of BMC gene clusters, the production of template empty shells, and the encapsulation of non-native enzymes.
October 13, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Joachim Kopka, Alisdair R Fernie
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
October 12, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Alessandra Gonçalves de Melo, Sébastien Levesque, Sylvain Moineau
Phages can infect all bacterial genera on the planet leading to their abundance in ecosystems. While these bacterial viruses may represent a risk to industrial fermentations, they may also be valuable tools to control foodborne pathogens. Here we review these two sides of phage replication. As bacterial fermentations are constantly under threat of phage attacks, we will discuss phage diversity and industrial strategies employed to reduce their impact on food processing. Furthermore, we will explore the use of pathogen-infecting phages to reduce the risks associated with foodborne diseases...
October 5, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Yang Yang, Christoph Benning
Plant oil in the form of triacylglycerols (TAGs) is a major storage compound used as food, feed and sustainable feedstock for biofuel production. Recent findings suggest that TAGs are more than a carbon and energy reserve in seeds and other storage tissues. In vegetative tissues, TAG metabolism is involved in cell division and expansion, stomatal opening, and membrane lipid remodeling. Moreover, in reproductive tissues, TAGs are important for both organ formation and successful pollination. Here we provide a brief overview of the physiological function and contribution of TAGs during plant development under optimal and varying environmental conditions...
October 4, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Yue Liu, Svetlana Alexeeva, Kyra Ay Defourny, Eddy J Smid, Tjakko Abee
Membrane vesicle (MV) production is observed in all domains of life. Evidence of MV production accumulated in recent years among bacterial species involved in fermentation processes. These studies revealed MV composition, biological functions and properties, which made us recognize the potential of MVs in food applications as delivery vehicles of various compounds to other bacteria or the human host. Moreover, MV producing strains can deliver benefits as probiotics or starters in fermentation processes. Next to the natural production of MVs, we also highlight possible methods for artificial generation of bacterial MVs and cargo loading to enhance their applicability...
October 3, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Guerrino Macori, Paul D Cotter
Fermentation is a traditional approach to food preservation that, in addition to improving food safety, also confers enhanced organoleptic, nutritional, and health-promoting attributes upon those foods. Dairy products can be fermented by a diverse microbiota. The accompanying microbes can be studied using a variety of different, including 'omics'-based, approaches that can reveal their composition and functionality. These methods have increasingly been recently applied to study fermented dairy foods from the perspective of genetic diversity, functionality and succession...
September 28, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Wenlong Cai, Wenjun Zhang
Polyketide synthases (PKSs) are one of the most profound biosynthetic factories for producing polyketides with diverse structures and biological activities. These enzymes have been historically studied and engineered to make un-natural polyketides for drug discovery, and have also recently been explored for synthesizing biofuels and industrial chemicals due to their versatility and customizability. Here, we review recent advances in the mechanistic understanding and engineering of modular PKSs for producing polyketide-derived chemicals, and provide perspectives on this relatively new application of PKSs...
September 22, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Kim L Johnson, Michael J Gidley, Antony Bacic, Monika S Doblin
The complexity and recalcitrance of plant cell walls has contributed to the success of plants colonising land. Conversely, these attributes have also impeded progress in understanding the roles of walls in controlling and directing developmental processes during plant growth and also in unlocking their potential for biotechnological innovation. Recent technological advances have enabled the probing of how primary wall structures and molecular interactions of polysaccharides define their biomechanical (and hence functional) properties...
September 12, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Zhidan Liu, Buchun Si, Jiaming Li, Jianwei He, Chong Zhang, Yuan Lu, Yuanhui Zhang, Xin-Hui Xing
A concept of biohythane production by combining biohydrogen and biomethane together via two-stage anaerobic fermentation (TSAF) has been recently proposed and considered as a promising approach for sustainable hythane generation from waste biomass. The advantage of biohythane over traditional biogas are more environmentally benign, higher energy recovery and shorter fermentation time. However, many of current efforts to convert waste biomass into biohythane are still at the bench scale. The system bioprocess study and scale up for industrial application are indispensable...
September 8, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Ke Xu, Bo Lv, Yi-Xin Huo, Chun Li
Rising feedstock costs, low crude oil prices, and other macroeconomic factors have threatened biofuel fermentation industries. Energy-efficient reactors, which provide controllable and stable biological environment, are important for the large-scale production of renewable and sustainable biofuels, and their optimization focus on the reduction of energy consumption and waste gas emission. The bioreactors could either be aerobic or anaerobic, and photobioreactors were developed for the culture of algae or microalgae...
September 8, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Yaakov Benenson, Matthias P Lutolf
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
September 7, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Ji-Yul Jung, Martina K Ried, Michael Hothorn, Yves Poirier
Proteins containing a SPX domain are involved in phosphate (Pi) homeostasis, including Pi transport and adaptation to Pi deficiency. The SPX domain harbors a basic surface binding Pi at low affinity and inositol pyrophosphates (PP-InsPs) at high affinity. Genetic and biochemical studies revealed that PP-InsPs serve as ligands for the SPX domain. Residues in the PHO1 SPX domain involved in PP-InsPs binding are critical for its Pi export activity, and the interaction between SPX proteins and the PHR1 transcription factor, which results in PHR1 inactivation, is promoted by PP-InsPs...
September 7, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Helen S Toogood, Nigel S Scrutton
Bioengineering and synthetic biology approaches have revolutionised the field of biotechnology, enabling the introduction of non-native and de novo pathways for biofuels production. This 'retooling' of microorganisms is also applied to the utilisation of mixed carbon components derived from lignocellulosic biomass, a major technical barrier for the development of economically viable fermentations. This review will discuss recent advances in microorganism engineering for efficient production of alcohols from waste biomass...
September 6, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Juli Wang, Kun Zhu
No abstract text is available yet for this article.
September 5, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Brigida Gallone, Stijn Mertens, Jonathan L Gordon, Steven Maere, Kevin J Verstrepen, Jan Steensels
Yeasts have been used for food and beverage fermentations for thousands of years. Today, numerous different strains are available for each specific fermentation process. However, the nature and extent of the phenotypic and genetic diversity and specific adaptations to industrial niches have only begun to be elucidated recently. In Saccharomyces, domestication is most pronounced in beer strains, likely because they continuously live in their industrial niche, allowing only limited genetic admixture with wild stocks and minimal contact with natural environments...
September 1, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Dustin D Heeney, Mélanie G Gareau, Maria L Marco
Metagenomics and related methods have led to significant advances in our understanding of the human microbiome. Members of the genus Lactobacillus, although best understood for essential roles in food fermentations and applications as probiotics, have also come to the fore in a number of untargeted gut microbiome studies in humans and animals. Even though Lactobacillus is only a minor member of the human colonic microbiota, the proportions of those bacteria are frequently either positively or negatively correlated with human disease and chronic conditions...
August 31, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Jens Walter, María X Maldonado-Gómez, Inés Martínez
Strategies aimed at modulating the gut microbiota by using live microbes range from single strains (probiotics or live biotherapeutics) to whole non-defined fecal transplants. Although often clinically efficacious, our understanding on how microbial-based strategies modulate gut microbiome composition and function is vastly incomplete. In this review, we present a framework based on ecological theory that provides mechanistic explanations for the findings obtained in studies that attempted to modulate the gut microbiota of humans and animals using live microbes...
August 31, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Mette Thorsing, Patrícia Teixeira Dos Santos, Birgitte Haahr Kallipolitis
Small regulatory RNAs (sRNAs) are involved in post-transcriptional control of important cellular processes and contribute to the success of a pathogen. Here, we use studies primarily selected from Salmonella enterica and Listeria monocytogenes to illustrate the current status of sRNA biology in important foodborne pathogens. We discuss how the regulatory activities of sRNAs can be affected by base pairing RNAs known as 'sponge RNAs', or by RNA-binding proteins, such as the newly discovered sRNA chaperone ProQ...
August 30, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Jonas De Roos, Luc De Vuyst
Although acetic acid bacteria (AAB) are commonly found in spontaneous or backslopped fermented foods and beverages, rather limited knowledge about their occurrence and functional role in natural food fermentation ecosystems is available. Not only is their cultivation, isolation, and identification difficult, their cells are often present in a viable but not culturable state. Yet, they are promising starter cultures either to better control known food fermentation processes or to produce novel fermented foods and beverages...
August 29, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
Tobias J Erb, Jan Zarzycki
Ribulose-1,5-bisphosphate carboxylase/oxygenase (RubisCO) is arguably one of the most abundant proteins in the biosphere and a key enzyme in the global carbon cycle. Although RubisCO has been intensively studied, its evolutionary origins and rise as Nature's most dominant carbon dioxide (CO2)-fixing enzyme still remain in the dark. In this review we will bring together biochemical, structural, physiological, microbiological, as well as phylogenetic data to speculate on the evolutionary roots of the CO2-fixation reaction of RubisCO, the emergence of RubisCO-based autotrophic CO2-fixation in the context of the Calvin-Benson-Bassham cycle, and the further evolution of RubisCO into the 'RubisCOsome', a complex of various proteins assembling and interacting with the enzyme to improve its operational capacity (functionality) under different biological and environmental conditions...
August 29, 2017: Current Opinion in Biotechnology
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