Development of Rhodobacter for the Production of Functional Membrane Proteins

Open Access
Curtis, Brandon Scott
Area of Honors:
Interdisciplinary in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Chemical Engineering
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Wayne Roger Curtis, Thesis Supervisor
  • Darrell Velegol, Honors Advisor
  • Philip Warren Mohr, Honors Advisor
  • Andrew Zydney, Faculty Reader
  • heterologous
  • bioprocessing
  • biomolecular engineering
  • Rhodobacter
  • photoreactor
  • expression platform
Members of the genus Rhodobacter are examined as potential alternative bioprocessing platforms for products that span the value continuum, from small-scale, isotopically-labeled heterologous membrane proteins to large-scale biofuels. The salient metabolic and physiological features of Rhodobacter are discussed, in the context of the potential advantages they confer over traditional expression hosts such as Escherichia coli under certain processing conditions. The availability of molecular tools for delivering DNA and modifying the genome of Rhodobacter is surveyed. Genetic engineering, reactor design, and reactor operational strategies that may improve the viability of Rhodobacter as an expression host are also explored in the context of two potential applications: heterologous membrane protein expression and liquid biofuel production. While significant work remains to be done to enhance the viability of Rhodobacter species as industrial production platforms, the analyses suggest that, in certain scenarios, the technical advantages of utilizing Rhodobacter as a production host may outweigh the technical challenges of using a non-traditional organism.