Flux Optimisation and BioAnalytics

The Flux Optimisation and BioAnalytics group focuses on the development and exploitation of methods for improving the productivity of microbial cell factories.

An initial focus is on the role of membrane transporters in these processes. The productivity of cell factories, like ‘real’ factories, is much enhanced if their products do not build up at the site of production, in this case inside the cell. Understanding how molecules are moved in, and more especially out of cells is thus critical [1,2].

Since natural evolution ensured that such molecules do not simply pass in and out freely, it is thus necessary to identify, and as appropriate modify, the relevant membrane transporters. The first of these is typically done by mass spectrometry, and this, and other high-throughput screening methods, can create huge amounts of data. This in turn leads to a requirement for sophisticated numerical methods of ‘big data’ analysis and mining, optimisation, machine learning, and data visualisation, an area that is also a focus of the group.

Finally, computational reasoning about the production of small molecules leads to a need for informatics as applied to chemicals, a field known as cheminformatics.

In particular, our efforts seek to expand the uses of microbial cell factories through:

  1. Novel and high-throughput screening and selection methods
  2. The identification, development and engineering of relevant membrane transporters
  3. Computational methods for working out how to make better strains

The ultimate goal of our research is to contribute novel and robust bacterial cell factories for the efficient and sustainable production of fine biochemicals to satisfy society’s needs.

[1] Kell DB, Oliver SG: How drugs get into cells: tested and testable predictions to help discriminate between transporter-mediated uptake and lipoidal bilayer diffusion. Front Pharmacol 2014; 5:231.

[2] Kell DB, Swainston N, Pir P, Oliver SG: Membrane transporter engineering in industrial biotechnology and whole-cell biocatalysis. Trends Biotechnol 2015; 33:237-246.


Douglas Kell
Associated Scientific Director
DTU Biosustain