Engineering Stable Anaerobic Consortia for Bioproduction

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The goal of this collaborative project is to engineer culture stability within anaerobic digestors for wet waste breakdown and targeted bioproduction. To achieve this goal, we will leverage our joint expertise in anaerobic consortia of biomass-degrading microbes and metabolic engineering of facultative anaerobes. Using defined anaerobic consortia from herbivore feces, we will learn which underlying metabolic processes drive interaction, culture stability, and production, using methane generation as a production benchmark. We hypothesize that the addition of facultative anaerobes (e.g. yeast and E. coli) to these consortia will preserve integrity of waste-degrading anaerobes by scavenging the oxygen that kills them. Additionally, facultative anaerobes can be metabolically engineered for direct bioproduction, as well as consumption of compounds that prove deleterious to anaerobes. The ability to control stable product generation by anaerobic consortia would lead to novel, low-energy, and tunable production directly from wet waste materials. 



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