Anne McLaren Fellow, Faculty of Medicine & Health Sciences
Ben's research focuses on the application of synthetic genome strains and techniques, both for sustainable biotechnology and to test how genome content and structure determines the behaviour of cells.
Areas of particular interest include:
The use of the SCRaMbLE recombination system that has been engineered into synthetic yeast genome strains to generate highly genomically diverse populations of cells. These populations can be sampled through selection and screening processes for enrichment of properties of interest for biotechnological applications. This includes improved use of waste carbon sources, improved production of high value chemicals, and improved tolerance to inhibitory conditions encountered in bioreactors.
The construction of synthetic yeast chromosomes housing essential genes and subsequent reduction of non-essential genes. By determining how readily genes are lost under various growth conditions, the importance of each gene to cell fitness under those conditions can be probed. This information could lead to the design of streamlined genomes suited to particular tasks.
Upon completion of his PhD working with the neurotoxin-producing pathogen Clostridium botulinum with Nigel Minton at the University of Nottingham, Ben moved to Imperial College London to join the newly opened synthetic biology centre. Here, working in the group of Tom Ellis, he shifted focus to promoter engineering and de novo orthogonal regulatory systems in yeast. After joining the international synthetic yeast genome consortium, Sc2.0, Ben led the effort to construct synthetic yeast chromosome XI in the Ellis lab. During this time, he demonstrated the use of the SRaMbLE system encoded into synthetic chromosomes to rapidly generate strains with improved phenotypes of interest.
University of NottinghamMedical School
Queen's Medical CentreNottingham NG7 2UH
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