Microbial Caffeine Metabolism
Caffeine is a natural product found in many plants worldwide. It is also toxic to most bacteria and many insects. We have a collection of caffeine-degrading bacteria isolated from soil. From these bacteria, we are identifying the genes and enzymes necessary for bacterial metabolism of caffeine. We are currently working on the following topics in this area:
- Metabolic engineering of E. coli to produce high-value chemicals from caffeine.
- Elucidating the structure of caffeine-degrading enzymes from Pseudomonas putida CBB5.
- Understanding the microbial genetics of caffeine metabolism.
- Engineering the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to degrade caffeine.
Probiotics bacteria provide many health advantages to their hosts. We are creating new molecular tools that will enable these beneficial bacteria to be used as therapeutic agents.
Riboswitches are sequences of mRNA that recognize small molecules and control gene regulation. We are developing new riboswitches that will recognize caffeine and many of its metabolites. These molecules may be used in the future as diagnostics to determine caffeine metabolism or to control gene expression in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology applications.
Synthetic Biology to Enable Metabolic Engineering
We are building a suite of modular plasmids that will function in many different microbial hosts (E. coli, S. cerevisiae, Lactobacillus sp., Lactococcus sp., and others). These modular plasmids will facilitate and accelerate construction of plasmids in future metabolic engineering applications.
Interested in our work?
We are very interested in building research collaborations worldwide. If you are interested in collaborating on research with us, please contact Dr. Summers.