Research Programs and Projects

The main objective of the INCT-BioSyn is to study and to prospect biological resources of plants and microorganisms to produce a base of integrated and dynamic data for building parts, circuits and metabolic pathways for engineering of biological systems and generation of technological platforms of biodiversity assets. These objectives include: (i) To study, collect, and characterize native and cultivated plants and microorganisms; (ii) To generate integrated databases of genome, transcriptome, and metabolome data from biological resources; (iii) To annotate, integrate, and build pieces, parts, and metabolic pathways for function engineering of biological systems; (iv) To develop synthetic biology technologies; (v) To generate technological platforms for the development of biotech products, and to add value to biodiversity and contribute to the conservation of natural resources.

 

The INCT-BioSyn consortium will contribute as a pillar of research and development of the National Plan for Biotechnology.

 

Foundation of the INCT-BioSyn:

 

  1. Sample collection and characterization of biological resources;

  2. Data generation and integrated large-scale analyses of microorganisms and plants;

  3. Build R-bions, bio-parts, bio-circuits and metabolic pathways for genome edition and engineering to generate and test new hypotheses about genes and protein function in biological systems;

  4. Development of biotechnological cross-platforms;

  5. Generation of molecular "chassis" of model species such as soybean and corn, and new bacterial systems for gene function engineering, metabolic pathway engineering, development of biotechnological active substances, and aggregation of value to biodiversity.

  6. Capacity building, young scientists training; Technological platform consolidation and service provision within the INCT network Technological platform. Popularization and vulgarization of Science and Biosynthetic technologies: interactions with science museums, social media and discussion groups on legal, ethical and social impacts of science and technology Bioethics and biosafety regulations; access to biodiversity and benefit sharing.

 

Research Program: 

Metabolic engineering of water deficit in soybean (Glycine max). Utilize the CRISPR/Cas9 system to generate G. max mutants in genes candidates related to drought tolerance; Evaluate the silenced genes function in the process of tolerance and response of plants to drought; Utilize CRISPR activators and RFNs activators to increase expression of genes previously identified as important in the process of tolerance / response of G. max plants to drought; Test the germination or vegetative propagation of the savanna native plants in laboratory conditions and simulate the experimental treatment in the greenhouse to select candidate(s) to search for genes; Perform transcriptome and metabolome to identify genes and metabolites related to water deficit/drought tolerance in selected native plant(s); Expression of the heterologous genes in G. max previously identified in native plants of the savanna through synthetic mini-chromosome, in order to express the biosynthesis pathway related to drought tolerance in G. max plants sensitivity to stress

 

Principal Investigator: 

Alexandre Nepomuceno

 

Researchers:

Bárbara França Dantas

Carolina Vianna Morgante

Clara Beatriz Hoffmann Campo

Liliane Márcia Mertz Henning 

Saulo de Tarso Aidar

Maria Cristina de Oliveira Neves

Norman Neumaier

 

 

 

Research Program: 

Industrial-scale production of ethanol in Brazil is not a sterile process and the pure cultures of S. cerevisiae used to inoculate the bioreactors rapidly become contaminated by other yeast and bacteria.  During the ethanol production season, the population of organisms in the reactor undergoes complex changes and often the starting S. cerevisae population is outcompeted by wild yeast.  The full complexity and dynamics of the microbial population present in a Brazilian industrial fermentation plant is not known because previous studies have relied on low-throughput methods for strain isolation and diversity analysis. Our ultimate goal is to understand population dynamics and the effect of contaminating bacteria and yeast on S. cerevisiae ethanol productivity. 

 

Principal Investigator:

Betania Quirino

 

Co-PI: 

Joao Almeida

 

Researchers:

Adam Arkin

Jeff Skerker

Chris Somerville

Lunalva Sallet

 

 

Research Program:

Genome edition and genetic circuits should contribute to increase precision and accelerate metabolic engineering directing gene regulation into plant cells. create cellular networks that integrate input signals for decision making and actuation. Create artificial logic gates and memory devices and implementations of cellular logic and complex gates required the layering of genetic circuits. Utilization of synthetic recombinase-based systems for integrating combinatorial logic and memory in living cells. Engineer oil and protein metabolism pathway of plant-based foods will have significant impacts in the productive sectors and sustainability. Plant metabolism composition is determined by a genetic network mediated by conversion of photosynthesis-inducing conversion of carbon and nitrogen into protein, oil and carbohydrates.

 

Principal Investigator: 

Elibio Rech

 

Researchers: 

Andre Murad

Cintia Coelho

Cristiano Lacorte

Eduardo de Oliveira Melo

Felipe Rodrigues da Silva

Giovanni Vianna

Leila Barros

Luiz Alberto Colnago

Shirley Ann Tousch Graham

Taciana Cavalcanti

 

 

 

 

Research Program:

Yeast Synthetic Biology for the production of molecules of biotechnological interest. Our research is focus on the development of molecular tools (plasmids for gene expression/genomic editing and artificial chromosomes) for Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Pichia pastoris in order to perform synthetic biology projects in these yeast platforms. The end products include biopharmaceuticals, biofuels and other biotechnologically relevant metabolites.

 

Principal Investigator:

Fernando Araripe Gonçalves Torres

 

Researchers:

Lidia Maria Pepe de Moraes

Janice Lisboa De Marco

 

 

 

 

 

Research Program:
Our program is aim at creating a deeper understanding of the amazon biodiversity with the use of molecular tools. We seed to describe biodiversity through DNA barcoding and in cases where greater resolution is needed we deploy full genomics sequencing. We also evaluate the genetic distribution of selected species using landscape genomics tools and study adaptive mechanisms of plants to the different environments with functional genomics approaches. We are also developing a detailed view of the microbiota of different amazon regions with metagenomics approaches. All experimental studies are supported with by bioinformatics and computational biology tools.

 

Principal Investigator: 

Guilherme Oliveira

Researchers:

José Augusto Bittencourt

Nelson Carvalho

Rafael Valadares

Ronnie Alves

Santelmo Vasconcelos

 

 

 

 

 

 

Research Program:

Metabolic studies and production of bioactive compounds of high added value in genetically modified organisms. Metabolic and bioactive compound studies will consist of the chemical characterization of genetically modified plants with emphasis on the identification and/or quantification of secondary metabolites, using a modern approach of dereplication that combines the use of sophisticated spectrometric techniques (Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy), and high resolution mass spectrometry) with chemometric methods, coupled with the aid of powerful data bases.

 

Principal Investigator: 

Kirley Marques Canuto

 

 

Researchers:

Lorena Mara Alexandre e Silva

Paulo Riceli Vasconcelos Ribeiro

 

 

 

 

Research Program: 

Nanobiotechnology and 3D Biofactory. The team associated with this research program is interested on frontiers of nanobiotechnology, including the evaluation of the characteristics of biological structures on nanoscale aiming the development of micro- and nanosystems; development of liposomal, lipid, metal and polymer micro- and nanosystems obtained by green synthesis routes aiming delivery of bioactives and immobilization of molecules; development of functional surfaces applicable to active food packaging, edible films, bioremediation systems, nanobiosensors, nanocatalysts, biomimetic, and nanoforensics; tests for evaluating the nanotoxicity and nanoecotoxicity in vitro and in vivo; digital manufacturing by additive manufacturing, subtractive manufacturing, reverse engineering, and 3D bioprinting of biological scaffolds; implementation of systems for industrial scaling-up, waste management, impact assessment, mathematical modeling, and sustainability of nanobiotechnology processes.

 

Principal Investigator: 

Luciano Paulino Silva

 

Researchers: 

Augusto Fernandes Vellozo

Cínthia Caetano Bonatto

Ivy Garcez Reis

Paulo Vieira Milreu 

 

 

 

 

Research Program:
Metabolic engineering of yeasts applied to the production of high added value chemicals

Brazil is known for its vast abundance in biomass. Among those sugar cane and soya are top crops utilized for the production of ethanol e biodiesel respectively. Nevertheless those types of biomass may be also utilized for the production of various chemicals such as bioplastics, biosurfactants and other biopolymers such as hyaluronic acid. Therefore research efforts have turned into developing microorganism strains able to convert raw material into those polymers.  The ideal microorganism should convert the raw material and produce the desired polymer in high yield and rate. Yeasts are unicellular microorganisms usually adapted to the harsh industrial environment. They often need genetic manipulation in order to achieve a scalable and economically viable process. Thus research efforts have turned into choosing the appropriate yeast specie for the production of specific biopolymers, genetically engineer them and finally make sure that the fermentation mode matches both industry demand.

 

Principal Investigator:

Nadia Skorupa Parachin

 

Researchers:

Talita Souza Carmo

Juliana Davies

 

 

 

Research Program: 

Global climate change is increasingly challenge to agricultural production and food security worldwide. Heat, drought and their interaction have had historically great influence on global crop yields. Modification of mitochondrial function is a potential target for enhancing crop yield and tolerance to various stresses. This particular BioSyn program aims the editing of regulatory and coding sequences to modify the function of maize various genes involved with the response and adaptation to abiotic stresses associated with climate change, with a focus on mitochondrial biogenesis and metabolism.

 

Principal Investigator: 

Paulo Mazzafera 

 

Co-PI: 

Ricardo Dante

 

Researchers: 

Geraldo M. A.,

Isabel R. Gerhardt

Márcio J. da Silva, 

Juliana E C. Teixeira

Joice M Bariani

Luiz A F Barbosa

Yassitepe Cançado

 

 

 

 

Research Program:
Construction of a knowledge base supported in genomic technologies. Sample collection and characterization of biological resources; Genome sequencing of Brachiaria species will be useful as platforms for engineering of gene function based on synthetic biology and genome edition

 

Principal Investigator:

Vera Carneiro

 

Researchers: 

André Southernman Teixeira Irsigler

Diva Maria de Alencar Dusi,

Glaucia Salles Cortopassi Buso

Julio Carlyle Macedo Rodrigues

Orzenil Bonfim da Silva Junior

Roberto Coiti Togawa

 

 

 

 

 

Research Program: 

Develop and optimize synthetic multi-antigen epitopes for use in diagnosis of Chagas' disease, leishmaniosis, and HIV; Optimize aptamers (DNA fragments or synthetic RNA selected by their 3D structure interaction with haptens or antigens as an alternative to the use of monoclonal antibodies) for diagnostics, to capture and target enrichment system, and the development of new cancer therapies; Development and optimization of synthetic antibodies or mini-antibodies.  In a first approach the group intends to develop and express Fv fragments off the therapeutic antibody Rituximab in the form of scFv that are stable in solution for long periods, four the optimization and demonstration the principle. Develop prototype vaccine of H1N1 influenza virus and H3N2 subtypes using reverse genetics to promote mutations that suppress the pathogenicity determinants as hemagglutinin cleavage sites; Develop prototype vaccine of influenza virus H1N1 and H3N2 subtypes using reverse genetics to promote the segments of neuraminidase mutations that increase proliferation of the viruses in cell culture for vaccine production; Utilize synthetic biology to fully construct the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase viral segments carrying mutations of interest without the use of viral matrix; Evaluate the immunogenicity and safety of these viruses generated by reverse mutation and synthetic biology through humoral and cellular immune responses induced by vaccination with virus generated Evaluate the protection of vaccinated animals challenged through infections with viruses generated

 

Principal Investigator:

Wim Degrave

 

Researchers: 

Ana Maria Mazotto de Almeida

Gilvan Pessoa Furtado

Isabelle Freire Tabosa Viana

Josiane Cardoso

Mariana Caldas Waghabi,

Marcos Catanho

Marcos Luiz Barros

Marcos Roberto Lourenzoni

Mateus Gomes de Godoy

Nidiane Dantas Reis Prado

National Institute of Science and Technology Synthetic Biology
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