Sci-Art Project Fermenting Futures presented at Ars Electronica in Linz

On this year’s Ars Electronica festival the project Fermenting Futures will be presented: Fermenting Futures is an art and science project developed by the Institute for Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU), and conducted in collaboration with the Department as outreach for arts-based research. The project will introduce some of the thousands of yeast species and their characteristics, as well as synthetic biology methods to create new yeast strains with exceptional capabilities to make our lives better while preserving the planet. In a residency at BOKU the British bioartists Anna Dumitriu and Alex May are transforming some highlights of this research into sculptural artwork.

BOKU colleagues around Diethard Mattanovich have made an important step by converting a heterotrophic into an autotrophic process: They manipulated industrial yeast cells in such a way that they remove CO2 from the air fix and grow without other carbon sources. To do this, they introduced eight foreign genes from spinach and bacteria into the yeast cells and destroyed three natural yeast genes. In this way, they transformed the methanol uptake pathway of yeast cells so that it resembles the carbon uptake cycle of plants. Diethard Mattanovich and his team published this research breakthrough in Nature Biotechnology in December 2019. Diethard Mattanovich is Full Professor of Microbial Strain Design and Head of the Institute of Microbiology and Microbial Biotechnology (IMMB) at the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences Vienna (BOKU). In 2010 he co-founded the Austrian Centre of Industrial Biotechnology (acib) where he directs the research area Microbial Parts and Systems. His research interests are biotechnology of microorganisms, with a focus on synthetic biology for the production of recombinant proteins and metabolites with yeasts, as well as fundamentals of yeast central metabolism.

Team Fermenting Futures: Prof. Diethard Mattanovich (AT), Prof. Ingeborg Reichle (DE), Anna Dumitriu (UK), Alex May (UK), Sonja Schachinger (AT), Wolfgang Giegler (AT), Prof. Michael Sauer (AT), Günter Seyfried (AT)