Our project in brief

We reshape morphology in filamentous fungi to aid industrial production of proteins and small molecules. We also develop new signal peptides to aid protein secretion. By improving the efficiency of bio-based production processes, we can improve the economic incentives to use them, thereby decreasing our reliance on oil-based substrates.


The importance of economics in the bio-industry

We want to improve the efficiency of protein production and secretion in Aspergillus niger. Why
  1. Economics are important. We all want to have a sustainable lifestyle and be free of disease, but we also have limited resources to pay for these things. Many biological solutions can help in these areas, but the high cost is a deterrent for using them.
  2. In addition, by improving the efficiency of bio-based production processes, we can improve the economic incentives to use them. In this way, we can decrease our reliance on oil-based substrates, and instead move towards a more sustainable and bio-based future. Money talks, as they say. So....
  3. While new biological discoveries are important, just as important is being able to produce them efficiently, to democratize their use. What good would penicillin be if it was 1.000.000 USD per dose? And iGEM discoveries! And...
That is why we want to tackle the issue of morphology control and signal peptides. As a proof of concept, we have chosen Aspergillus niger for our work. Aspergillus is a staple industry chassis for manufacturing, our previous iGEM teams have developed parts and protocols for it, and our university department has many experts in Aspergillus species - and filamentous fungi in general.


Dissecting the problem of morphological control

We talk about improving efficiency from changing morphology, but what exactly happens between those two steps? Turns out, in fermentations, the following happens (wetlab you gotta figure this out lmao).
    In order to change morphology, we need:
  1. Lack of protocols for getting cheap, useful microscope images that are easy to analyze.
  2. Lack of models for clearly reading brightfield microscope images quickly and automatically.
  3. Lack of tools for characterizing morphology clearly.
  4. Lack of standardized, well-described biological parts for altering morphology.
In addition, we worked with signal peptides next to