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Focus | Energies | Carbon cycle
Since 2017, Genoscope has been involved in energy research. Several engagements within various CEA initiatives (CEA consortium for the SUNRISE project, the 2019 strategic domain NTE, the FCC workgroup for the integrated vision for energy, etc.) position Genoscope as an active participant in the CEA program Circular Carbon Economy (CEE).
The commitment of Genoscope and its research unit to the broad theme of energies began in 2017 through the participation of Marcel Salanoubat, then Director of the Genomics Metabolics mixed research unit, in the "energies" and especially "biofuels" DoORS1 of which that unit was the "pilot".
Several engagements within various CEA initiatives (CEA consortium for the SUNRISE project, the 2019 strategic domain NTE2, the Closing the Carbon Cycle (FCC) workgroup for the integrated vision of energy mission, etc.) have come one after the other, making Genoscope an active participant in the CEA's recent CEE program.
This engagement manifests notably by Genoscope's participation in the creation of strategic documents, in meetings with external institutions (ENGIE, Chinese Academic Society), in intra-CEA discussions, presentations and activities (Energies "Eat and Bench"3 program, webinars, etc.) and in the exchange of ideas with the program's directors. Carine Vergne-Vaxelaire is now the Genoscope representative for this strategy.
In coherence with its competencies and research activities, Genoscope has positioned itself within the "biology" orientation of the CEE project. Currently, two laboratories are active in it :
the Organic Chemistry and Biocatalysis Laboratory (team leader: Anne Zaparucha; PIs: Volker Döring and Madeleine Bouzon-Bloch)
The Genomics and Biochemistry of Metabolism laboratory (Team leader: Véronique de Bérardinis; PI: Andrew Tolonen)
Other laboratories will be increasing their involvement in the years to come, particularly for (meta)genomics gene/pathway discovery research. By 2025, it is planned to double the number of employees in this area.
CEE research at Genoscope is focused on metabolic engineering in the bacterial species Escherichia coli, Methylobacterium extorquens and Clostridium phytofermentans (Cphy). The aim is to modify these bacteria for the production of molecules of interest for the ECC program only from CO2 substrates (or CO2-derived C1) or biomass (the case for Cphy), with always an eye on the development of low-carbon energies.
Once the needed genetic tools are developed and validated for each bacterial species, the process will involve modifying and/or inserting the genes or metabolic pathways that enable bacterial growth on such substrates and/or the synthesis of target molecules. Genoscope's continuous culture devices (GM3 automates) are an advantage for these projects. With them, it is possible to adapt modified bacteria to various substrates via selective screening on metabolic factors, or improve their resistance to various molecules, target compounds, or inhibitors.
The thesis by Marion Schultz, financed as a part of the FOCUS FCC call, falls within this approach. The project's objective is to give Escherichia coli the ability to form biomass from CO2, using molecular hydrogen as an energy source. Changing the naturally heterotrophic E. coli to provide autotrophic capacities will enable novel biotechnological applications that benefit from the characteristic and very advantageous growth and genetic malleability of this organism. The project is being carried out in partnership with Christine Cavazza's4 team in Grenoble.
1: Documentation d'orientation stratégique de la Direction de la Recherche Fondamentale du CEA (CEA Fundamental Research Division strategic orientation documentation)
2: Nouvelle Technologie de l'Énergie [new technology for energy] (learn about the strategic domains ("mailles" in CEA parlance) on the intranet)
3: "Eat and Bench" events are organized by the Bibliometrics and Marketing Studies Service of the CEA's Valorization Department.
4: Chemistry and Biology of Metals laboratory within the Interdisciplinary Research Institute of Grenoble (IRIG)
CEA is a French government-funded technological research organisation in four main areas: low-carbon energies, defense and security, information technologies and health technologies. A prominent player in the European Research Area, it is involved in setting up collaborative projects with many partners around the world.