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Title page for ETD etd-11232015-165833

Type of Document Dissertation
Author Jazmin, Lara Jeline
Author's Email Address lara.j.jazmin@vanderbilt.edu
URN etd-11232015-165833
Title Mapping Photoautotrophic Metabolism of Cyanobacterial and Plant Systems with Isotopically Nonstationary 13C Metabolic Flux Analysis
Degree PhD
Department Chemical Engineering
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Jamey D. Young Committee Chair
Carl H. Johnson Committee Member
G. Kane Jennings Committee Member
Peter C. Cummings Committee Member
  • metabolic flux analysis
  • arabidopsis thaliana
  • cyanobacteria
  • 13C labeling experiments
  • photoautotrophic metabolism
Date of Defense 2015-09-30
Availability unrestricted
Photoautotrophic metabolism represents the primary source of all food on earth as well as raw materials for bio-based production of fuels and chemicals. Therefore, improving photosynthetic efficiency is an important aim for metabolic engineering. There are few comprehensive methods that quantitatively describe photoautotrophic metabolism, though such information would be valuable for increasing photosynthetic capacity, enhancing biomass production, and rerouting carbon flux toward desirable end products. This dissertation presents the application of a novel metabolic flux analysis technique, isotopically nonstationary metabolic flux analysis (INST-MFA), to in vivo models of cyanobacterial and plant systems. First, we applied INST-MFA to map carbon fluxes in the cyanobacteria Synechococctus elongatus PCC 7942, which has been engineered to produce isobutyraldehyde. Flux analysis revealed a pathway bottleneck at the pyruvate node, which led to further rounds of strain engineering, resulting in significant increases in isobutyraldehyde productivity. Next, we applied INST-MFA to Arabidopsis thaliana rosettes to examine a more complex plant photosynthetic network. This was the first extension of INST-MFA to an in planta experimental system, taking into account compartmentalization and cellular heterogeneity, in order to quantify differences in carbon partitioning as a response to altered environmental light conditions. Finally, we extended the INST-MFA approach to identify metabolic pathway alterations in transgenic lines of Arabidopsis thaliana that had been engineered to express a bacterial carbonic anhydrase enzyme, which was the first step toward reconstituting an algal carbon concentrating mechanism in a C3 plant. Quantification of the global impact of this genetic perturbation on intermediary carbon fluxes revealed unexpected increases in photorespiratory activity that will guide further rounds of metabolic engineering. The application of INST-MFA toward improving photosynthetic capacity in both cyanobacterial and plant systems provides a scientific framework for similarly transformative steps in industrial photosynthetic microorganisms and crops that are important for biofuel and chemical feedstock production.
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