Yeast Biofuel

INDUSTRIAL BIOTECHNOLOGY  / Biofuels and Industrial Biotechnology

Research Interests

Yeast Biorefineries, Physiological Genomics, Synthetic Biology, Genome Editing, Microbial Drug Resistance, ABC transporters, sphingolipid

Description of Research

Microbial cell factories are excellent alternative for manufacturing bio-based chemicals including biofuel molecules. The advantage of microbial cell factories is that they can use low-value materials (agricultural waste) as a carbon source for growth and desired product synthesis. Thus, microbial cell factories have the potential to make a major contributions to the circular economy by extracting value from current waste streams. To this end the research group is exploiting synthetic biology and metabolic engineering approaches to develop yeast strains with a broad range of sugars (C5 and C6), utilisation capabilities and synthesising value-added compounds such as Xylitol, xylo-oligosaccharides, bio-alcohols and FAEE.

In any microbial cell factory substrates have to be taken up and the product exported (efflux system). The translocation of molecules across membranes requires the action of transporters. Membrane transporters are the gatekeepers of the cell controlling what is allowed in and out. We are elucidating the mechanism of substrate recognition and transport of foreign molecules by membrane bund transporters.

A second interest of the Group is in the field of Multi-drug resistance (MDR) research, with particular reference to fungal drug resistance. The laboratory is exploring role of epigenetic markers and molecular mechanisms of transcriptional control of gene regulation in human fungal pathogen such as Candida albicans, Candida glabrata and Candida auris.

Current projects in the Group aim to develop novel yeast strains for microbial biorefineries to produce fuels and chemicals in a cost-effective manner. The Group is developing robust yeast strains for the production of ethanol, fatty acid ethyl ester, xylitol, xylo-oligosaccharide, and TAG from molasses and lignocellulosic biomasses. The Group is focusing on scale-up studies for industrial use and advanced fuel and chemical production. Metabolomic profiling of Rhodosporidium toruloides by the Group revealed the diversion of the cytidinediphosphate-diacylglycerol and glycerol pathway towards de novo triacylglycerol synthesis (Journal of Fungi 2021). Carotenoid(s) extracted from red yeast showed antimalarial activity against P. falciparum (Biologia Futura, 2021) and the Ddi1 gene of P. falciparum was expressed and characterized in yeast in context of inhibition by artemisinin (Pathogens, 2021). Sphingolipidomics of drug resistant clinical isolates of Candida auris revealed distinct sphingolipid species signatures, compared with susceptible isolates (BBA-Molecular and Cell Biology of Lipids, 2021).

Yeast metabolic engineering to develop strains capable of a wide rage of sugar utilisation, stress tolerance and production of industrially relevant compounds
Yeast metabolic engineering to develop strains capable of a wide rage of sugar utilisation, stress tolerance and production of industrially relevant compounds

Recent Publications

Kumar, K. K., Deeba, F., Suraj., Negi, Y. S., Gaur, N. A. 2020. Harnessing pongamia shell hydrolysate for triacylglycerol agglomeration by novel oleaginous yeast Rhodotorula pacifica INDKK. Biotechnology for Biofuels. 13: 175. DOI: 10.1186/s13068-020-01814-9 Pubmed link

Kumar, M., Pandey, A. K., Kumari, S., Wani, S. A., Jakeer, S., Tiwari, R., Prasad, R., Gaur, N.A. 2020. Secretome produced by a newly isolated Aspergillus flavus strain in engineered medium shows synergy for biomass saccharification with a commercial cellulase. Biomass Conversion and Biorefinery. DOI: 10.1007/s13399-020-00935-3

Jakeer, S., Varma, M., Sharma, J., Mattoo, F., Gupta, D., Singh, J., Kumar, M., Gaur, N. A. 2020. Metagenomic analysis of the fecal microbiome of an adult elephant reveals the diversity of CAZymes related to lignocellulosic biomass degradation. Symbiosis 81(3), 209-222. DOI: 10.1007/s13199-020-00695-8

Kumari S, Kumar M, Khandelwal NK, Pandey AK, Bhakt P, Kaur R, Prasad R, Gaur NA. 2020. A homologous overexpression system to study roles of drug transporters in Candida glabrata. FEMS Yeast Res. 20(4):foaa032. DOI: 10.1093/femsyr/ foaa032. Pubmed link

Muzafar, S.,  Sharma, R. D., Shah, A, H., Gaur, N. A., Dasgupta, U., Chauhan, N., Prasad, R. 2020. Identification of genome wide alternative splicing events in sequential, isogenic clinical isolates of candida albicans reveals a novel Mechanism of drug resistance and tolerance to cellular stresses. mSphere. 5(4):e00608-20. DOI: 10.1128 /mSphere. 00608-20. Pubmed link

Pandey, A. K., Kumar, M., Kumari, S., Jakeer, S., Naz, S., Chandna, P., Bhatnagara, I., Kumari, P., Yusuf, F., Gaur, N. A. 2019. Evaluation of divergent yeast genera for fermentation associated stresses and identification of a robust sugarcane distillery waste isolate Saccharomyces cerevisiae NGY10 for lignocellulosic ethanol production in SHF and SSF. Biotechnol Biofuels. 12:40. DOI: 10.1186/s13068-019-1379. Pubmed link


Adesh K Saini, Sonam Kumari, Naseem A. Gaur. 2020. An antifungal composition comprising bark and leaves extract of populus ciliata plant and method of – Indian Patent Application No. 202011014386

Naseem A Gaur, Rajendra Prasad, Sonam Verma, Mohit Kumar. 2020. ABC transporters deficient pathogenic yeast strain, overexpression system for characterization of membrane transporters and a process for the same – Indian Patent Application No. 201911008033

Naseem A Gaur, Priya Kumari. 2020. Metabolic engineering of yeast for high level biodiesel production –  Indian Patent Application No. 201911029246