Nanette R. Boyle
Assistant Professor, Coors Developmental Chair
Recent reports from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have indicated that atmospheric carbon dioxide levels have reached a new high (400 ppm) and continue on an upward trend. This, coupled with fluctuations in the price and supply of fossil fuels, highlight a need to develop more sustainable sources of energy as well as chemical feedstocks typically derived from petroleum products. Solar power, as the main source of energy on Earth, is the logical first step in the search for alternative energies. Photosynthetic organisms, such as cyanobacteria, algae and plants, have evolved over thousands of years to efficiently harvest solar energy and use that energy to convert carbon dioxide into complex molecules (starch, proteins, lipids, secondary metabolites, etc). With advances in synthetic biology and metabolic engineering, we now have the ability direct carbon flux to metabolites that can serve as fuels, feedstocks and fine chemicals.
The main goal of our research group is to use genome engineering approaches (synthetic biology, systems biology, and metabolic engineering) to design photosynthetic organisms capable of producing fuels, feedstocks, and fine chemicals in a sustainable way. We focus on i) developing larger and more sophisticated molecular toolkits for cyanobacteria and optimizing those tools to ensure high recombineering efficiencies, ii) using genome-wide engineering techniques to identify genes which increase performance of cyanobacteria under stress conditions (salt, nutrient limitation, high/low light, etc) and iii) designing production strains capable of using CO2 and sunlight to produce molecules of interest.
NR Boyle, JA Morgan. Flux balance analysis of primary metabolism in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. BMC Systems Biology. 2009, 3(1):4. [Highly Accessed]
NR Boyle, JA Morgan. Computation of Metabolic Fluxes and Efficiencies for Biological Carbon Dioxide Fixation. Metabolic Engineering. 2011, 13(2) p: 150-158.
NR Boyle, MLD Page, B Liu, IK Blaby, J Kropat, S Cokus, S Karpowicz, D Casero, J Shaw, A Hong-Hermesdorf, S Johnson, C Benning,M Pellegrini, A Grossman, S Merchant. Three acyltransferases and a nitrogen responsive regulator are implicated in nitrogen starvation-induced triacylglycerol accumulation in Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. Journal of Biological Chemistry. 2012, 287(19) p: 15811-15825.
NR Boyle, RT Gill. Tools for Genome-Wide Strain Design and Construction. Current Opinion in Biotechnology. 2012, 23(5) p: 666-671.
LBA Woodruff, NR Boyle, RT Gill. A directed, genome-wide approach to select for improved ethanol production in a heterologous Escherichia coli production platform. Metabolic Engineering. 2013, 17(0) p: 1-11.
NR Boyle, TS Reynolds, R Evans, M Lynch, and RT Gill. Recombineering to Homogeneity: Extension of Multiplex Recombineering to Large-Scale Genome Editing. Biotechnology Journal. 2013, 8(5) p: 515-522.