Microbial lifestyle engineering

Linde F.C. Kampers

Research output: Thesisinternal PhD, WU


Using Pseudomonas putida KT2440 as a proof-of-concept organism, this thesis was aimed at microbial lifestyle engineering for industrial applications. In this thesis, a structured approach was applied by first determining what microbial improvements industry is looking for by conducting a series of interviews with both industry and academia. Besides pinpointing the fields of interest from an industrial perspective, the interviews also clarified the limitations of the actual implementation of novel or (synthetically) adapted strains developed. Strain safety being at the top of their list, we first checked the claimed GRAS safety level of P. putida KT2440.

A major obstacle for the breakthrough of P. putida KT2440 to be widely used as a biotechnological host is its obligate aerobic metabolism. In silico-directed strain improvement were initiated by the adaptation of strict aerobic P. putida KT2440 to micro-oxic and anoxic conditions. Adaptation to micro-oxic levels was done by first creating a design for a recombinant strain capable of anaerobic fermentation. The bottlenecks uncovered were resolved by insertion of three genes, and the recombinant strains were monitored through an adaptive laboratory evolution method with oxygen gradients set up specifically for this purpose. Recombinant strains were able to grow under micro-oxic conditions. Strain performance did not improve compared to the negative control under anoxic conditions. A more elaborate in-silico analysis was performed, combining protein domain analysis, transcriptomic analysis and genome-scale metabolic models to design a recombinant P. putida KT2440 strain capable of anaerobic respiration.

Another general limitation in strains is their limited thermo-tolerance. We discovered a strong universal connection between NAD+ availability and thermo-tolerance. By replacing one single gene for a thermophilic heterolog in mesophilic prokaryotes, both P. putida and E. coli showed instant improved thermo-tolerance. Insertion of the aspartate NAD+ biogeneration pathway in eukaryotic yeast S. cerevisiae resulted in a similar effect. To determine the value of this thermo-tolerance in industry, a down-scaled microfluidics system was developed to mimic temperature fluctuations occurring in large scale  bioreactors. The novel discovery between thermo-tolerance and NAD+ availabilty was patented.

Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Wageningen University
  • Martins dos Santos, Vitor, Promotor
  • Schaap, Peter, Co-promotor
Award date4 Jun 2020
Place of PublicationWageningen
Print ISBNs9789463953245
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Cum laude


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