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Dirk Linke new projectleader at Centre for Digital Life

Five new research projects to join Centre for Digital Life Norway. Professor Dirk Linke from The Departement of Bioscience is one of the new projectleaders.

Structure, illustration

Illustration: Unsplash

Centre for Digital Life has expanded with five more research projects, supported with 95 millions from Forskningsrådet. Professor Dirk Linke from The Departement of Bioscience is one of the five projectleaders, and the project is titled: "Bio-engineered palladium nanoparticles".

Eco-friendly sustainable alternatives

The project will study how several bacteria can reduce heavy metals and form discrete, homogeneous metallic deposits on the cell surface. Examples include Desulfovibrio desulfuricans and Escherichia coli, which both mediate the reduction of precious metals in the presence of Hydrogen, H2. These bio-nanoparticles (NPs) have unique catalytic properties and would be highly useful in industrial settings, e.g. as cracking catalysts for breaking down large organic polymers, and bio-NPs are attractive as eco-friendly, sustainable alternatives to physico-chemically synthesized NPs. 

Gene editing

Although the catalytic properties of bio-NPs have been studied in detail, so far the molecular mechanisms involved in their formation are poorly characterised. In an earlier projects funded by VISTA (2014-17), and in an Innovation PhD project funded by the University of Oslo since 2016, Linke aimed at elucidating the molecular mechanism(s) of bio-NP deposition. His group have successfully developed assays that will now, in the new Digital Life project, be used to screen libraries of E. coli knock-out mutants to identify candidate genes. In parallell, have used bioinformatics tools to identify candidate genes that will be knocked out in a more targeted approach.

Once a set of candidate genes affecting bio-NP deposition has been identified, the defects will be verified using electron microscopy and other techniques. This will allow elucidation of the molecular pathways leading to bio-NP formation and the proteins involved in the critical steps. This is complemented by “systems biology” approaches to understand the underlying metabolic status of the bacteria, and how mutations in target genes will influence this status.

Understanding the biological pathways

The results of this work will provide an understanding of the biological pathways involved in bio-NP formation, and will allow the projectgroup to manipulate these pathways to improve the production process. The group hope to improve production yields, to optimize their catalytic properties for different applications, or to obtain particles with specific electronic or magnetic properties.

Published Dec. 14, 2018 2:31 PM - Last modified Dec. 19, 2018 2:33 PM