Metabolic engineering is the rational and purposeful redesign of organisms to meet commercial objectives, by the modification of existing - or the introduction of new - metabolic pathways. Metabolic engineering aims to better understand and use cellular pathways for biochemical transformation into value added products.
Metabolic engineering is about the analysis and modification of metabolic pathways, and it was introduced as a scientific discipline in 1991 (Bailey, J.E. Science 252: 1668-74). Key elements include the modelling of metabolic pathways and networks (genes, enzymes, and metabolites) in the cell, and the application of recombinant DNA technology. In addition to its high importance as a basic scientific discipline, metabolic engineering has become important within many aspects of industrial biotechnology.
Knowledge acquired from metabolic engineering will benefit society in a number of ways, including the development of bioprocesses as substitutes for less desirable chemical processes; allowing greater agricultural production, permitting more efficient and safer energy production, and; providing better understanding of the metabolic basis for some medical conditions that could assist in the development of new cures.
Our research group has, together with our closest collaborators at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, worked with metabolic engineering since 1993. Our focus is basic research with applied aspects and we dominantly work with bacteria. Together we have development broad-host-range and adjustable expression tools proven to be highly useful for experimental metabolic engineering. Our research also focuses on bioproduction of antibiotics, amino acids, and biopolymers. For example, we cooperate with the University of Minnesota on metabolic engineering of the methylotrophic Bacillus methanolicus for effective conversion of methanol into the industrially important amino acids L-lysine and L-glutamate. We have also recently started to research on heterologous production of carotenoids. Together our practical work includes genetic engineering, advanced analyses, high-throughput screening, and fermentation technology. Our infrastructure and laboratories are well designed this multidiscipline research field.