University of Minnesota


Our Research

To exploit the full potential of biotechnology it is necessary to have a quantitative understanding of the cell behavior and of the interactions of individual cell components which cause a cell to reproduce, to grow, and to carry out certain reactions. One part of our research is focused on the physiology of cell growth and the formation of certain cell products of interest in microorganisms. A rigorous approach to this problem requires a corpuscular view of the cell culture; i.e., the cell culture consists of individuals that each contribute with their properties to the characteristics of the entire cell culture. Experimental as well as theoretical tools are little developed to realize this approach, and our research extends, therefore, into both levels.

A further component of our research is the biosynthesis of poly-hydroxyalkanoates, a class of sustainable, biodegradable polymers that could substitute petro chemically derived materials . The aim of these studies is the rational manipulation of the biosynthesis of this material resulting in different primary structures and thus different physical properties of the polymer.

Systems and Synthetic Biology approaches are being used to carry out metabolic engineering manipulations of cells that have been designed for optimal performance using rational network analysis techniques. The aim is to understand the design principles of metabolic networks that lead to highly productive and selective cells. The research includes studies of the principles of evolution since biological systems are inherently unstable because they continuously evolve.