PROBACTYS: Programmable Bacterial Catalysts

Duration: 36 months

Coordinator: Helmholtz Center for Infection Research (Germany)


Contact Person:

Dr. Vitor dos Santos
Helmholtz Center for Infection Research
Inhoffenstrasse 7
38124 Braunschweig, Germany
e-mail: vds[at]
tel: +49 531 61 81 40 08
fax: +49 531 61 81 41 99


  • Consejo superior de investigaciones cientificas (Spain)
  • Institut Pasteur (France)
  • Imperial College London (United Kingdom)
  • Technical University Delft (The Netherlands)
  • Beijing Genomics Institute (China)
  • Biomedical SME (Spain)


Project Description:

The project aims at constructing of a functioning, streamlined bacterial cell devoid of most of its genome and endowed with a series of highly coordinated, newly assembled genetic circuits for the biotransformation of a range of chloroaromatics into high added value compounds and that would include (although not necessarily in this order or all together) circuits for synchronized behaviour, noise minimisation, low-temperature biocatalysis and/or light-powered and, in addition, amenable to directed, accelerated evolution so that the function of each or some of the individual circuits can be optimised. This will be tested for the production of high added value compounds from chloroaromatics in bioreactors. By achieving such constructs as a proof-of-principle, it is aimed at establishing a solid, rational framework for the engineering of cells performing effectively and efficiently specific functions of biotechnological, environmental or medical interest. This encompasses the production of series of different, versatile circuits and corresponding components that can be used as building blocks in circuit engineering. The proposed workflow includes several work packages, each of which intertwining mathematical modelling with wet-lab experimental work as an integral module. PROBACTYS is a pioneering, concerted European effort towards the development of a Synthetic Biology framework and with a strong focus on the translation of emerging knowledge in biology, engineering and information technology to the development of new processes of biotechnological relevance.

(source: Cordis Nest Pathfinder projects 2003-2006)