Breaking down barriers: construction of a hybrid heterochiral membrane

Melvin Siliakus

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Because of a chemical disparity between Archaeal and Bacterial membrane-lipids, these organisms thrive under distinct environmental conditions. Archaea are generally more resistant to extreme habitats like low pH, high temperature or presence of solvents. It has therefore long been hypothesized that the archaeal lipids provide archaeal cells with a higher robustness than bacterial lipids do for Bacteria. A recent study in which bacterial and archaeal lipids were mixed to form hybrid vesicles “lipid enclosed round structures”, for instance showed a higher temperature dependent stability than either the bacterial or archaeal lipid vesicles separately. In the present study, we therefore introduced the enzymatic machinery for assembly of archaeal lipids into the bacterium Escherichia coli. This engineering led to cells with a mixed membrane at a surprisingly high amount of 28% archaeal lipids. Although the intervention led to severe morphological malformations, the cells indeed showed an increased robustness to extreme cold and butanol.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • van der Oost, John, Promotor
  • Kengen, Servé, Co-promotor
Award date4 Nov 2016
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789462579293
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • membranes
  • engineering
  • escherichia coli
  • fatty acids
  • isoprenoids
  • archaea
  • thermococcus kodakarensis
  • polymerase chain reaction
  • gene knock-out
  • dna modification


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