Nanocellulose production by bacteria is an interesting, ecofriendly alternative to cellulose production from wood, based on the capacity of a number of bacteria to excrete cellulose filaments with the characteristic of nanocellulose (10-100 nm width, several um length). Macroscopically these filaments are observed as a thick biofilm in the culture vessels. Bacterial nanocellulose is an emerging nanomaterial that has attracted substantial interest due to its unique physicochemical and mechanical properties, which can be used for a variety of commercial applications including textiles, cosmetics, and food products. Furthermore, its high water holding capacity, good biocompatibility and low toxicity as compared to plant-derived nanocellulose make BNC an attractive form of nanocellulose with high potential for medical applications, including tissue replacement.
We have isolated a bacterial strain capable of nanocellulose synthesis using a broad range of organic and inorganic carbon compounds as carbon source (1, 2). A spontaneous mutant of this strain has an increased capacity of cellulose synthesis, reaching high cellulose production levels from different carbon sources, including biodiesel industry wastes and other pollutants (patent pending). Within the general research lines of our group, the objective of this project is to understand the molecular mechanisms underlying the increased synthesis capacity of the mutant strain. Genome comparison of wild type and mutant strains located several point mutations and a large deletion that could explain the improved phenotype. Preliminary results identified several regulatory circuits as possible candidates to control and increase the expression of the enzymes involved in cellulose biosynthesis.
The candidate will actively participate in the characterization of the regulatory circuits involved in cellulose production, to determine their role in the improved properties of the mutant strain. This will require the analysis of several regulatory proteins and their target promoters and genes, both in vivo and in vitro. In the framework of our global research, the candidate will be responsible for his own project, which will be determined according to the research progress at the time of recruitment. His activities will involve regular molecular biology and biochemistry approaches, as well as physicochemical characterization of the cellulose products. He must be familiar with general microbiology techniques (cultivation, conservation, etc.). Previous knowledge on bioinformatic genome analysis will be welcome. The work of the candidate will benefit from the availability of a number of analytical and electron microscopy techniques available at the University of Granada. Because the final goal of our group is the efficient production of an added value biopolymer in the context of circular economy, the candidate will also be involved in the improvement of the culture methods to obtain maximum productivity, based on the results of his research. In this frame, he will take advantage of existing scientific collaborations between our group and groups in the field of Material Science specialized in biopolymers, as well as of the possible connections with the industrial stakeholders.
Finally, the CSIC collaborates on a regular basis with the University of Granada, a reputed University in Spain founded in 1531, with more than 45,000 students, ranked in the 3% of the best valued universities in the world.
1. S. M. Martirani-Von Abercron, P. Marin, M. Solsona-Ferraz, M. A. Castaneda-Catana, S. Marques, Naphthalene biodegradation under oxygen-limiting conditions: community dynamics and the relevance of biofilm-forming capacity. Microb. Biotechnol. 10, 1781-1796 (2017).
2. P. Marín et al., Bacterial nanocellulose production from naphthalene. Microbial Biotechnology 12, (2019).