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The Laboratory Investigation of Stress Factors (LIFE) has developed a long-standing expertise in metabolism, molecular biology and physiology of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Studies of budding yeast made immense contributions to our understanding of basic cellular and molecular processes. Today, the use of yeast is undergoing a 'rebirth' in both fundamental and applied research.

S. cerevisiae is a very attractive organism to work with, since it has a short generation time and grows in a highly reproducible and genetically stable way. Due to its long history of application in the production of consumable products such as ethanol and baker's yeast, it has been classified as a GRAS organism (generally regarded as safe). Also, the well-established fermentation and process technology for large-scale production with S. cerevisiae make this organism attractive for several biotechnological purposes. Another important reason for the applicability of this yeast is its susceptibility to genetic modifications by recombinant DNA technology, which has been even further facilitated by the availability of the complete genome sequence of S. cerevisiae.

At LIFE, we are currently working on the response of S. cerevisiae to stress conditions. We have focused our interest on the mechanism by which yeasts acquire tolerance to oxidative stress, which has been linked to diseases, such as cancer, and to the aging process. Because of the universal response of the stress, further insight into the response of S. cerevisiae will improve our understanding of defense mechanisms from microrganisms to man and, consequently, the necessary foundation for practical applications.

Industrial application of yeasts exposes these organisms to multiple stressful conditions. If yeasts are to be of commercial use, they must be able to survive and adapt to unfavorable environmental conditions that change steadily or rapidly. In this way, using metabolic engineering, we aim to increase the efficiency of ethanol production by S. cerevisiae during fermentation of different broths (cane juice, diluted molasses or bagasse hydrolysate). LIFE coordinates a national network for genetic improvement of industrial yeast strains and is a member of the consortia BIOETHANOL2G and PROETHANOL2G/Brazil-Europe, aiming to engineer S. cerevisiae for xylose fermentation.

Research Interests

Use of yeast to screen in vivo for antioxidants (natural and synthetic)

" Mechanisms of tolerance against dehydration

" The oxidative stress response

" The biology of ageing

" The molecular basis of cadmium detoxification

" Trehalose metabolism

" Ethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass by recombinant S. cerevisiae

" Improvement of the performance of yeast strains during industrial fermentations through metabolic engineering

My address
Departamento de Bioquímica, Instituto de Química, UFRJ
21941-909 Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
Phone: 55-21-2562-7735
FAX: 55-21-2562-7826
E-mail: [email protected]

LIFE

 

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