The pathway design phase, which represents the backbone of our project, has been completed during the first year. We have now almost completed the first two phases of the project (in silico and in vitro) and we are moving towards the 3rd phase in vivo. Currently, we are implementing the pathways in the bacteria E. coli using it as a platform for the pathway selection. This step is paving the way for the introduction of the most promising pathways into the final organisms: cyanobacteria and plants. Below you can see two of the selected pathway:
Our results in a nutshell:
We identified more than 100 candidate pathways that can potentially bypass the natural photorespiration without releasing CO2.These pathways contain reactions catalyzed by existing enzymes as well as plausible reactions that might be catalyzed by modified enzymes.
We are engineered existing promiscuous enzymes that will efficiently catalyze some of the novel reactions required by the selected pathways. We have identified all the promiscuous enzymes needed in four of the synthetic candidate pathways and they are currently undergoing the evolution stage
Our ability to test pathways in vitro and in vivo is limited. To improve our filtering capabilities, we have generated a computational model of plant photosynthesis that takes into account both the central carbon fixation pathway (the Calvin cycle) as well as the photorespiration pathway.