Fixen Lab

University of Minnesota

3:30 p.m. October 27 | Amundson 151D

‘Fix-ing’ to understand electron flow in a purple non-sulfur bacterium

Bacteria are promising biocatalysts for the production of biofuels and bioproducts because they can tap into sources of energy that we are still struggling to use (e.g. plant biomass, sunlight, and waste streams), and the ATP and electrons generated from metabolizing these sources can power metabolic pathways that produce energy-rich
compounds.

Anaerobic bacteria and archaea, in particular, have evolved diverse ways of managing electron flow to pathways that often naturally result in the release of compounds like butanol, ethanol, methane, hydrogen, etc. Understanding mechanisms that control electron flow is necessary to get these organisms to produce more of these com-
pounds.

In the Fixen lab, we are working to understand electron flow in the anoxygenic phototroph, Rhodopseudomonas palustris, by:

1.characterizing components of electron transfer and factors that determine their interactions;

2.) understanding how these components are regulated by environmental factors; and

3.) identifying and characterizing new pathways that can use these electrons to make valuable compounds.

By understanding how R. palustris controls electron flow, we hope to find new ways to divert more electrons down pathways that generate energy-rich compounds.