Dissertation defence (Molecular Plant Biology): MSc Gábor Szilveszter Tóth


7.6.2024 at 12.00 - 16.00
MSc Gábor Szilveszter Tóth defends the dissertation in Molecular Plant Biology titled “Employing Solid-State Platforms for Photosynthetic Chemical Production” at the University of Turku on 07 June 2024 at 12.00 (University of Turku, Educarium, Edu2, Assistentinkatu 5, Turku).

Opponent: Associate Professor Daniel Ducat (Michigan State University, USA)
Custos: Professor Yagut Allahverdiyeva-Rinne (University of Turku)

Doctoral Dissertation at UTUPub: https://urn.fi/URN:ISBN:978-951-29-9730-5


Summary of the Doctoral Dissertation:

In my thesis work I explored the possibilities to use photosynthetic microorganisms entrapped in hydrogel matrices for the production of different chemicals. Photosynthetic microorganisms, such as cyanobacteria and microalgae play a key role in the ecosystem while also hold great economic potential for a sustainable future. By using genetic engineering, many chemicals can be synthesised by these microorganisms taking advantage of photosynthesis. Immobilising photosynthetic microorganisms in environmentally friendly and biodegradable materials can transfer the production into a solid-state system. Immobilised systems are an effective strategy for enhancing production, simplifying operation, and facilitating upscaling.

Key findings include the enhanced production of sucrose and ethylene by engineered cyanobacterial strains. Furthermore, the produced sucrose drove the biotransformation of cyclohexanone to e-caprolactone, an important plastic material in an engineered Escherichia coli. The expression of a monooxygenase enzyme in the eukaryotic green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii was explored as an alternative with photosynthetic co-factor regeneration and O2 production. The biotransformation was further optimised by the improvement of the strain and coupled with photosynthetic hydrogen production in a stepwise manner. By using 3D-printing and a photocurable bioink, containing biomaterials and the cells, I demonstrated its compatibility with both prokaryotic and eukaryotic photosynthetic cells, as well as ethylene production and biotransformation. The 3D-printed films showed improved stability and present the possibility of creating complex structures.

The results of this research highlight the versatility of photosynthetic microorganisms for applications in different solid-state chemical production systems. These findings open new ways towards the use of engineered photosynthetic living materials, contributing to the advancement of a more sustainable chemical industry.
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