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Biofabricated cellulose materials through synthetic biology

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Title: Biofabricated cellulose materials through synthetic biology
Authors: Walker, Kenneth
Item Type: Thesis or dissertation
Abstract: The development of synthetics has been an essential part of human advancement over the past 100 years. However, as we look further into the next 100 years, we see how the production and scale of consumption of synthetics is deeply unsustainable. With this backdrop, many are looking to biomaterials as the more sustainable, advanced and dynamic next step after synthetics. Biomaterials already possess many of the properties that we seek in synthetics and offer the potential for dynamic and responsive features not currently possible through conventual manufacturing. However, to control the properties of these biomaterials requires that we become highly adept at manipulating the biological machinery that produce them. Synthetic biology, a field that applies the approaches of engineering to biological systems, aims to give us such capabilities. To understand how synthetic biology could transform the material space, it must be applied to a system of biomaterial production. Bacterial cellulose, a pure cellulose material produced by many bacteria, but overproduced by the genetically tractable Komagataeibacter rhaeticus may be the best place to explore this potential. Here, I have set out to explore the application of synthetic biology to bacterial cellulose. First, I better characterise K. rhaeticus with a combination of DNA and RNA sequencing - focusing on the use of long-read DNA sequencing to assemble the genome of K. rhaeticus. Next, I construct a series of tools for K. rhaeticus, including a modular CRISPR interference system and an optogenetics system which can produce high-resolution spatial pattering within growing bacterial cellulose. Finally, I explore how one could use engineered bacterial cellulose through the creation of a self-dyeing, melanin producing bacterial cellulose, which, in collaboration with biodesigner Jen Keane, I use to biofabricate a genetically modified shoe upper.
Content Version: Open Access
Issue Date: Apr-2021
Date Awarded: Nov-2021
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/10044/1/97932
DOI: https://doi.org/10.25560/97932
Copyright Statement: Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial ShareAlike Licence
Supervisor: Ellis, Thomas
Sponsor/Funder: Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC)
Funder's Grant Number: 1846146
Department: Bioengineering
Publisher: Imperial College London
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Qualification Name: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Appears in Collections:Bioengineering PhD theses

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