About the Webinar

The emerging field of synthetic genomics involves the redesign and construction of entire genomes. This approach to synthetic biology will enable an unparalleled understanding of minimal biological modules and genome organisation, as well as the construction of superior industrial strains. As part of the global ‘Yeast 2.0’ consortium, the Macquarie University team is contributing to the field of synthetic genomics by building chromosomes XIV and XVI of the synthetic Saccharomyces cerevisiae genome. A defining feature of the synthetic yeast genome is an inducible genome shuffling system that is facilitated by the flanking of every non-essential gene with Cre recombinase LoxP recognition sites. This Synthetic Chromosome Recombination and Modification by LoxP mediated Evolution (SCRaMbLE) system can facilitate deletion, inversion, duplication, and translocation events between LoxP sites upon Cre recombinase induction. After the synthetic yeast genome is complete, we will be able to generate millions of different versions that vary in genomic architecture and content using SCRaMbLE. The tools of systems biology can then be used to elucidate novel genome design principles that are common to SCRaMbLEd genomes with superior industrial properties.

About the Presenter


Tom Williams obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Queensland under the supervision of Professor Lars Nielsen. He created and fine-tuned genetic circuits that are capable of switching gene expression ‘on’ and/or ‘off’ automatically in the industrial yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. These circuits were then applied to control the activation of a metabolic pathway for the production of sustainable plastic precursor para-hydroxybenzoic acid.

He was awarded a doctorate in 2015 and is currently employed as a postdoctoral researcher at Macquarie University in Sydney, Australia, where he plays a leading role in the Macquarie University team’s contribution to the global Yeast 2.0 project (http://syntheticyeast.org/). Aimed at building a completely synthetic version of the yeast genome, this project will have wide-ranging impacts on our understanding of genome organisation and complexity and will enable the rapid creation of industrial yeast strains that can sustainably produce biofuels, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals.

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