- University researchers aim to turn agricultural waste into everyday products
- Groundbreaking collaborative research published in Nature Chemical Biology
- Zhang named 2015-2017 McKnight Land-Grant Professor
- Zhang wins 2014 Early Innovator Award
- Center for Sustainable Polymers receives $20 million grant to pioneer next generation plastics
- Collaborative UMN research team develops sugar-derived copolymers for sustainable applications
Our research program combines principles of chemistry, biology and engineering to achieve biosynthesis beyond nature. Why? Increasing petroleum consumption has caused oil depletion and climate change, thus we have to explore sustainable approaches to energy and chemical feedstocks. While biosynthesis is a promising green technology, biological systems produce only a limited set of natural metabolites. To overcome this barrier, we will expand the metabolic capabilities of bacteria to biosynthesize various nonnatural metabolites that are useful biofuels, bulk chemicals and pharmaceuticals.
To achieve high-level biosynthesis of non-natural metabolites, our research theme is divided into three steps: First, artificial metabolic pathways are designed; second, protein evolution is performed to realize and optimize the designed pathways; third, metabolic flux is driven to the production of target compounds. Our research integrates techniques from synthetic biology, synthetic chemistry, protein engineering, metabolic engineering and biochemical engineering.
- American Heart Association National Scientist Development Grant Award, 2013
- 3M Non-tenured Faculty Award, 2013
- Inaugural University of Minnesota Innovation Award, 2014
- McKnight Land-Grant Professor, 2015
- Tai Y.S., Xiong M., Zhang K. Engineered biosynthesis of medium-chain esters in Escherichia coli.Metab Eng. 2015 Jan;27:20-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ymben.2014.10.004.
- Xiong M, Schneiderman DK, Bates FS, Hillmyer MA, Zhang K. Scalable production of mechanically tunable block polymers from sugar. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2014 Jun 10;111(23):8357-62. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1404596111.
- Zhang, K., Woodruff A.P., Xiong M., Zhou, J. and Dhande, Y.K. A Synthetic Metabolic Pathway for Production of Platform Chemical Isobutyric Acid. ChemSusChem 2011. Jul 8. doi: 10.1002/cssc.201100045.
- Xiong M., Deng J., Woodruff A.P., Zhu M., Fu Y., Zhang, K. A Bio-Catalytic Approach to Aliphatic Ketones. Sci. Rep., 2012, 2:311.
- Jambunathan P, Zhang K.Novel pathways and products from 2-keto acids. Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 2014 Oct;29:1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2014.01.008.
- Dhande, Y.K., Xiong M., Zhang, K. Production of C5 carboxylic acids in engineered Escherichia coli. Process Biochem. 2012, 47:1965–1971.