About this Research Topic
To provide sustainable and renewable chemicals for the world, metabolic engineering has been widely used in the past two decades to produce a wide range of compounds, including biofuels, biopharmaceuticals, and polymers. In general, metabolic engineering aims to use cells as factories for chemical production and often involves the reprogramming of metabolic networks to overproduce certain metabolite, either native or non-native to the host cell. To achieve this goal, strategies from both synthetic biology and systems biology need to be adopted. In brief, synthetic biology contributes to metabolic engineering by creating diverse biomolecular devices for precise and controllable regulation of biosynthetic pathways while systems biology uses in-depth analysis of cell metabolism to achieve the rational design of biosynthetic pathways.
With the recent breakthrough in synthetic biology and systems biology, the portfolio of chemicals that are produced from microbial hosts has been dramatically enlarged. For example, by constructing synthetic pathways, a panel of natural products that are originally produced in fungi and plants can now be synthesized in industrial workhorses such as yeast. Using novel biomolecular approaches to compartmentalize metabolic pathways, several chemicals that used to be difficult for microbial synthesis can now be produced at high yield. Further, the advance of systems biology approaches such as multi-omics analysis allow the in-depth mining of complex metabolic network to discover novel route for chemical synthesis, while the development of genome editing tools such as CRISPR facilitates the molecular design of pathways for metabolic engineering.
This Research Topic in Frontiers in Microbiology provides recent advances in metabolic engineering, focusing on development of novel biomolecular and computational strategies for discovering and synthesizing novel chemicals in microorganisms. The Topic covers two aspects of metabolic engineering: biomolecular design and pathway optimization. It serves to showcase the significance of synergizing synthetic biology and systems biology to reprogram cells for biochemical production, and also provides key examples of novel metabolic insights that facilitate the optimization of novel biosynthesis pathways.
Keywords: synthetic biology, bioenergy, systems biology, microbial metabolism, genome editing
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