University of Georgia Department of Microbiology
Postdoc/ iGEM instructor
I have been working on many aspects of methanogenic archaea, including their physiology and ecology, since my doctoral studies. Working with a group of talented and passionate iGEM students, I am currently focused on developing tools for genetic engineering of Methanococcus maripaludis, an excellent model organism for methanogenic archaea. Because of its uniquely autotrophic and methanogenic metabolism, we are constructing M. maripaludis as a platform species for making high value biochemicals with an ultra-small carbon footprint. As a proof of concept, we have recently demonstrated that a recombinant M. maripaludis strain could produce geraniol using H2 and CO2 when a synthetic geraniol synthase gene was heterologously expressed (Lyu., et al., 2016, ACS Syn Biol). In parallel, the same set of genetic tools has also enabled us to explore some fundamental molecular mechanisms for methanogenesis (In progress). Another unique feature of M. maripaludis is that it shares many genes with human in the information processing system (Lyu and Whitman, 2016, CMLS). Therefore, our platform could also promote development of an archaeal model for certain human diseases (In progress).