Understanding biofilm biology is central for establishing and optimising bioprocesses mediated by microorganisms. This research theme covers a range of specific and broader applications. The bioprocesses can be mediated by very specific alterations that target either the biofilm matrix or cells within the matrix. Alternatively, system-wide manipulations can be implemented to achieve desired bioprocessing outcomes.
SCELSE is developing biofilm technologies for biotechnological applications, microbial solvent production, and probiotic and bioactive delivery systems. One such focus are involves conjugated oligoelectrolytes (COEs), which spontaneously intercalate into lipid bilayers of microbial cell membranes. COEs can be tailored to impart either stabilising or destabilising properties, depending on their intended use.
Research topics include:
- Stabilising microbial membranes for enhanced bioprocessing, e.g., butanol production
- Gram-typing using conjugated oligoelectrolytes
- Controlling biofilm thickness for biotech applications
COEs that are longer than the dimensions of the lipid bilayer act as rivets to rigidify the membrane when they insert themselves between the phospholipids.