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Ruanbao Zhou

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Synthetic Biology for Green Chemicals

Using a synthetic biology approach to develop cellular cyanofactories, these engineered cyanobacteria are able to convert air (CO2 & N2 ) and water into fuel molecules (e.g. limonene) and high-value chemicals using sunlight. Outstanding graduate students recruited to work on this project will gain extensive hands-on training on biochemistry and molecular biology.

 Filamentous Cyanobacteria 

In response to environmental changes, vegetative cells of Anabaena cylindrica can differentiate into three other cell types: a heterocyst (H) for oxic N2-fixation, an enlarged spore called akinete (A) for stress survival, and a terminally tapered cell (T) that is highly active in cell division. Akinetes normally differentiate from vegetative cell adjacent to heterocysts. Heterocysts inhibit nearby cells from differentiating into heterocysts but can induce nearby cells to become akinetes, a rare embryogenetic induction in prokaryotes. We seek to understand how they do so. 

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