Synthetic Biology Tools

Plate with yeast strains showing different orange colour due to different Beta-Carotene content
Photo: private

The transition to a bio-based economy demands organisms, like plants or microorganisms, that utilize sustainable biomass to produce proteins or compounds of industrial relevance like e.g. biofuels, biopolymers, pharmaceuticals or food supplements. 
This usually requires a variety of genomic manipulations, like the insertion of foreign genes necessary to utilize alternative substrates or synthesize the desired compound, or the deletion of native genes, which might negatively interfere with the foreign biochemical pathway. 
Furthermore, precise tools to regulate the expression levels of the gene products are needed to optimize product yield.
In our group, we develop robust genetic tools, which help to customize host organisms in order to create improved biotechnological chassis which ideally combine optimized productivity with an easy and cost-efficient cultivation.

Plate with yeast strains showing different orange colour due to different Beta-Carotene content
Photo: private

AssemblX

A user-friendly toolkit for rapid and reliable multi-gene assemblies

PhiReX

A programmable and red light-regulated protein expression switch for yeast

L-SCRaMbLE

As a tool for light-controlled Cre-mediated recombination in yeast

DNA-based Molecular Tagging

Nanopore sequencing stick connected with a Laptop
Photo: private

We are also working on the development of molecular tagging systems to label valuable products for counterfeit protection in two funded projects: 

DNA-based anti-plagiarism ink and detection kits

funded by the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Climate Action (BMWK)

Project partners: BOWA GmbH, SERATEC GmbH

The aim of the project is to develop DNA-based markings on paper substrates that allow unambiguous proof of authenticity as well as traceability of products, thus making counterfeiting extremely complicated or even impossible with the current state of the art technologies. In cooperation between two SMEs and the University of Potsdam, a coordinated system is to be developed that includes several components: customer-specific DNA-containing inks, a suitable printing process, a non-destructive sampling procedure, two methodologically different detection test kits, and an automated cloning platform for the batch-coding DNA sequences.
Upon successful completion, the project will provide customers with a complete solution that realizes the combination of high efficiency, reliability and ease-to-use at low cost, time and effort.
 

Molecular labeling system with position-oriented DNA encryption

funded by Potsdam Transfer (FöWiTec)

We developed a design for position-oriented encryption of linear DNA tags (patent application, EP22151968.9, European Patent Office; Jan. 18, 2022) that can be incorporated into products or packaging materials as proof of authenticity. This provides a high level of protection for various products, e.g. pharmaceuticals, artworks or last wills. The design of the DNA sequences is based on a pool of different DNA molecules whose code cannot be deciphered by a forger and therefore cannot be copied. For this purpose, we design a library of DNA molecules comprising a large number (typically millions) of different DNA sequences. These sequences consist of a certain number of mostly randomized nucleotides. To ensure reliable identification of these DNA libraries, the DNA sequences contain a specific pattern as a code. This code is, in simple terms, a chosen relationship between selected positions/nucleotides in an otherwise randomized DNA sequence. 
During the five-month project, which is funded by Potsdam Transfer (FöWiTec), the previously developed design is to be validated in order to facilitate the transfer of scientific research into application.

Nanopore sequencing stick connected with a Laptop
Photo: private

Please contact Dr. Lena Hochrein for more details and discussion about our projects.

Join the team

If you are interested in joining our lab as a PhD student or postdoc, please contact Dr. Lena Hochrein by sending your CV and a letter of motivation detailing your interest in our work. There are frequent possibilities for applying for fellowships through EMBOMarie Sklodowska CurieDAAD,  etc. Please consider contacting us early enough before the submission deadlines so that we can together plan a suitable research project.

If you are interested in joining our lab as a bachelor or master student, please contact Dr. Lena Hochrein or Dr. Katrin Czempinski.

Contact

Group Leader

 

University of Potsdam
Institute of Biochemistry and Biology
Department of Molecular Biology
14476 Potsdam Golm
Germany