Synthetic Ecology at BTI

New Funding extends BTI’s Synthetic Ecology Initiative

In July 2013, the BioTechnology Institute announced a third round of funding for its Synthetic Ecology Initiative, supported by the President’s Initiative on Biocatalysis with funding from Office of the Vice President for Research. The Initiative provides funding for 19 postdoctoral positions geared towards collaborative, inter-disciplinary, research in Synthetic Ecology, which seeks to investigate and engineer diverse microbial communities to perform biocatalytic processes which individual organisms cannot accomplish alone.

The Initiative, which began in 2010, was designed to help establish the BioTechnology Institute as a global leader in the Synthetic Ecology, has supported research in key areas related to biofuel production, antibiotic resistance, and bioremediation. Funding from the Initiative also provides infrastructure support and acts as a catalyst for extramural funding. Since its inception, projects funded by the Biocatalysis Initiative, which includes the Synthetic Ecology Initiative, have resulted in over $8 million in extramural grants from agencies including the National Institutes of Health (NIH),
the National Science Foundation (NSF), the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Through its Synthetic Ecology Symposim series, hosted in 2012 and 2013, the program also encourages greater collaboration and interaction between faculty and students. Topics presented at the 2013 Symposium included research on the suppression of antibiotic resistance through the manipulation of pheromone signaling, the evolution of synthetic microbial communities, chemical signaling among antibiotic producing bacteria, the use of Synthetic Ecology to engineer the mechanical properties of bacterial biofilms. In 2013, symposium organizers Mike Sadowsky and Tim Tripp placed an emphasis on presentations by postdoctoral Researchers. The symposium also featured a poster session for postdocs, who also had the opportunity to post their research on the Institute’s Synthetic Ecology webpage to encourage ongoing communication and collaboration. For For a full program and posters, see the symposium website at: