ChBE Seminar Series: Chase Beisel
Tuesday, February 24, 2015
11:00 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Room 2108, Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Building
Professor Ganesh Sriram
Domesticating the Undomesticated: Standardized Tools for Non-model Microbes and Their Communities
Chase L. Beisel
Department of Chemical & Biomolecular Engineering
North Carolina State University
The microbial world is teeming with organisms that exhibit unique attributes waiting to be understood and exploited. Some microbes thrive in extreme conditions and can efficiently degrade biomass, others can take up residence in our digestive tracts, and others are central players in global nutrient cycles. Despite the technological potential of these attributes, the fraction of the microbial world that can be genetically manipulated remains remarkably small. Developing the associated toolset has proven to be extremely difficult and often begins anew even for related strains. As a result, the research community regularly defaults to a handful of "model" microbes, missing out on the rich diversity of attributes available in nature.
The long-term goal of my research program is to make genetic tool development an afterthought, thereby opening a much larger fraction of the microbial world to bacterial genetics and synthetic biology. In this talk, I will highlight my group's recent work developing biomolecular tools for controlling the composition of a mixed microbial population and for reprogramming gene expression patterns. A central theme of this work is CRISPR-Cas systems--prokaryotic defense systems that have shown incredible promise for genome editing--and how these systems can be harnessed as biomolecular tools for microbes and their communities.