This project combines synthetic biology, microfluidic technology, and computational modeling to probe metabolic networks in three model organisms in dynamic environments and to study the evolutionary process of developing a competitive growth advantage. A synthetic genetic oscillator will control expression of essential metabolic enzymes in E. coli and Synechocystis (a cyanobacterium), and the growth characteristics of these engineered organisms in a periodically changing environment will be compared to wildtype, non-modified organisms. In yeast, synthetic biology and microfluidic technology will be used to "evolve" a well-characterized metabolic network and microscopy will be used to identify changes that confer a growth advantage in a dynamic environment. The combination of modeling and experimental approaches will provide insight into how organisms can be modified, either through engineered or natural evolutionary processes, to give them a growth advantage in fluctuating environments.

Broader Impacts: A quantitative understanding of microbial evolution will contribute to the development of new strategies to control microbial infections. An elementary school science program will be developed in partnership with the San Diego Unified and North County school districts. Project personnel and graduate students will work with elementary school teachers to prepare the graduate students to teach hands-on experimental science lessons that are integrated with the classroom curriculum.

Agency
National Science Foundation (NSF)
Institute
Division of Molecular and Cellular Biosciences (MCB)
Application #
1121748
Program Officer
Gregory W. Warr
Project Start
Project End
Budget Start
2011-08-01
Budget End
2015-07-31
Support Year
Fiscal Year
2011
Total Cost
$822,136
Indirect Cost
Name
University of California San Diego
Department
Type
DUNS #
City
La Jolla
State
CA
Country
United States
Zip Code
92093