Yong-Su Jin, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Synthetic Biology for Sustainability and Human Well-being

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Precision fermentation, a recent branch of synthetic biology, is transforming the production of food ingredients, nutrients, and fermented foods. With advancements in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology, traditional microbial fermentation has evolved into precision fermentation which utilizes human consumable food-grade microorganisms and precise genome editing for the economic and sustainable production of food ingredients and fermented foods. Numerous food tech startups and large food companies are adopting precision fermentation as a biomanufacturing method to replace existing production methods employing chemical synthesis and animal production.

In this seminar, I will discuss our microbial engineering endeavors to domesticate, engineer, and evolve yeast strains for precision fermentation. Specifically, efficient and rapid production of food ingredients (tagatose and malic acid), nutraceuticals (carotenoids and vitamin A), and prebiotics (human milk oligosaccharides) by engineered yeast will be showcased. Also, genome-edited yeast strains for
improving the safety, quality, and sensory properties of fermented foods (bread, potato chips, and Korean rice wine) will be presented. These genome-edited yeast strains can be used to produce fermented foods without subjection to GM regulation, as they do not contain heterologous DNA. Lastly, I will present our work in enhancing the probiotic and prebiotic properties of a probiotic yeast strain for gut microbiome modulation. This seminar will provide valuable insights into the exciting potential of synthetic biology for producing sustainable and nutritious foods and microbiome engineering toward sustainability and human well-being.

Speaker Bio:

Yong-Su Jin is Professor of Food Microbiology in the Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition and a faculty member of the Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB). He is a principal investigator of the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI), and is also a member of the Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research (CABER) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Dr. Jin received B.S. (1996) and M. S. (1998, advisor: Prof. Jin-Ho Seo) degrees in Food Science and Technology from Seoul National University and received Ph. D. degree (2002, advisor: Prof. Thomas Jeffries) in Food Science and Bacteriology (minor) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. After completing a post-doctoral training (2003-2005, advisor: Prof. Greg Stephanopoulos) in the Department of Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he served as an Assistant Professor (2006-2008) in the Department of Food Science and Biotechnology at the Sungkyunkwan University in Korea.