The Systems and Synthetic Biology Group

The Systems and Synthetic Biology group designs proteins, microbes, and microbial communities for clean energy, manufacturing, agriculture, bioremediation, and human health. We use systems biology approaches to gain a predictive understanding of complex microbes/microbial communities and uncover foundational design rules that govern system level behavior. We employ synthetic biology approaches to redesign proteins and microbial pathways that sequester target critical metals, resist mutational inactivation, and generate products of strategic importance. Using engineering and material science principles, we translate fundamental science discoveries into platform technologies that benefit national security.

Recent Publications

Prolonging Genetic Circuit Stability through Adaptive Evolution of Overlapping Genes.
J.L. Chlebek, S.P. Leonard, C.S. Kang-Yun, M.C. Yung, D.P. Ricci, Y. Jiao, D.M. Park 
Nucleic Acids Research (2023).

Enhanced rare-earth separation with a metal-sensitive lanmodulin dimer.
J. A. Mattocks, J.J. Jung, C.-Y. Lin, Z. Dong, N.H. Yennawar, E.R. Featherston, C.S. Kang-Yun, T.A. Hamilton, D.M. Park, A.K. Boal, J.A Cotruvo
Nature (2023). vol 618, 87–93. 

Insights into the physiological and genomic characterization of three bacterial isolates from a highly alkaline, terrestrial serpentinizing system.
J. Thompson, C. Barr, L.C. Babcock-Adams, L. Bird, L. Eugenio, A. Garber, Y. Hongoh, M. Liu, K.H. Nealson, A. Okamoto, D. Repeta, S. Suzuki, C. Tacto, M. Tashjian, N. Merino.
Frontiers in Microbiology (2023). Volume 14.

Electrogenetic signaling and information propagation for controlling microbial sonsortia via programmed lysis.
E. VanArsdale, A. Navid, M.J. Chu, T.M. Halvorsen, G.F. Payne, Y. Jiao, W.E. Bentley, M.C. Yung
Biotechnology and Bioengineering (2023). vol 120, 1366–1381. 

Temporal evolution of Pu and Cs sediment contamination in a seasonally stratified pond.
F. Coutelot, J. Wheeler, N. Merino, D.I Kaplan, S. Owings, M. Taillefert, M., et al.
Science of The Total Environment (2023). Vol 857, 159320.

Comparison of Kill Switch Toxins in Plant-Beneficial Pseudomonas fluorescens Reveals Drivers of Lethality, Stability, and Escape
T.M. Halvorsen, D.P. Ricci, D.M. Park, Y. Jiao, and M.C. Yung.
ACS Synthetic Biology (2022), vol 11 (11), 3785–3796. 

Plant-associated fungi support bacterial resilience following water limitation.
R. Hestrin, M. Kan, M. Lafler, J. Wollard, J.A. Kimbrel, P. Ray, S. Blazewicz, R. Stuart, K. Craven, M. Firestone, E. Nuccio, J. Pett-Ridge.
The ISME Journal (2022), vol 16, 2752–2762.

Bacterial exometabolites influence Chlamydomonas cell cycle and double algal productivity.
M. Windler, R. Stuart, J.S. Deutzmann, X. Mayali, A. Navid, P. D’haeseleer, O.E. Marcu, M. Lipton, C. Nicora, A.M. Spormann.
FEMS Microbial Ecology (2022), vol 98 (9). 

Plutonium mobilization from contaminated estuarine sediments, Esk Estuary (UK).
E. Balboni, N. Merino, J.D. Begg, K.M. Samperton, F.E. Zengotita, G.T.W. Law, A.B. Kersting, M. Zavarin.
Chemosphere (2022), vol 308, 136240.

Bacterial Community Assembly, Succession, and Metabolic Function during Outdoor Cultivation of Microchloropsis salina
M.M. Morris, J.A. Kimbrel, H. Geng, M.B.Tran-Gyamfi, E.T. Yu, K.L. Sale, T.W. Lane, X. Mayali.
mSphere (2022), vol 7 (4).

Microbial Carbonation of Monocalcium Silicate
M.S. Guzman, J. Iyer, P. Kim, D. Kopp, Z. Dong, P. Foroughi, M.C. Yung, R.E. Riman*, and Y. Jiao*
ACS Omega (2022) vol 7 (15) 12524–12535.

Subsurface microbial communities as a tool for characterizing regional-scale groundwater flow
N. Merino, T. R. Jackson, J.H. Campbell, A.B. Kersting, J. Sacket, J.C. Fisher, J.C. Bruckner, M. Zavarin, S.D. Hamilton-Brehm, D.P. Moser
Science of The Total Environment (2022) Vol 842, 156768

Complete Genome Sequence of Acidithiobacillus ferriphilus GT2, Isolated from Gold Mill Tailings
M. Guzman, D. Reed, Y, Fujita., Y. Jiao., D.M. Park.
Microbiology Resource Announcements. (2022) Vol 11, No 2.

Phosphate Availability Modulates Root Exudate Composition and Rhizosphere Microbial Community in Teosinte and a Modern Maize Cultivar
V. L. Brisson, J. Richardy, S. M. Kosina, T. R. Northen, J. P. Vogel, A. C. M. Gaudin.
Phytobiomes Journal (2022). 6 (1).

Prokaryotic Genome Annotation
J. A. Kimbrel, B. M. Jeffrey, C. S. Ward
Microbial Systems Biology (2022) 193-214.

Comparative Genomics Reveals Insights into Induction of Violacein Biosynthesis and Adaptive Evolution in Janthinobacterium
X. Wu, A.E. Kazakov, S. Gushgari-Doyle, X. Yu, V. Trotter, R. K. Stuart, R. Chakraborty
Microbiology Spectrum (2021) Vol 9(3).

Bridging Hydrometallurgy and Biochemistry: A Protein-based Process for Recovery and Separation of Rare Earth Elements
Z. Dong, J. A. Mattocks, G. J.P. Deblonde, D. Hu, Y. Jiao, J. A Cotruvo, Park, D.M.
ACS Central Science (2021).

Janthinobacter additions reduce rotifer grazing of microalga Microchloropsis salina in biotically complex communities
C. S. Ward, K. Rolison, M. Li, S. Rozen, C. L. Fisher, T. W. Lane, M. P. Thelen, R. K. Stuart
Algal Research (2021). 58, 102400.

A biosorption-based approach for selective extraction of rare earth elements from coal byproducts
D. M. Park, A. Middleton, R. Smith, G. Deblonde, D. Laudal, N. Theaker, H. Hsu-Kim, Y. Jiao.
Separation and Purification Technology (2020) 241, 116726.

FeGenie: A Comprehensive Tool for the Identification of Iron Genes and Iron Gene Neighborhoods in Genome and Metagenome Assemblies
A. I. Garber, K. H. Nealson, A. Okamoto, S. M. McAllister, C. S. Chan, R. A. Barco, N. Merino
Frontiers in Microbiology (2020) 11, 37.

Metabolomic Analysis Reveals Contributions of Citric and Citramalic Acids to Rare Earth Bioleaching by a Paecilomyces fungus
V. Brisson, W.-Q. Zhuang, L. Avarez-Cohen
Frontiers in Microbiology (2020) 10, 3008.

Selective collection of iron-rich dust particles by natural Trichodesmium colonies
N. Kessler, R. Armoza-Zvuloni, S. Wang, S. Basu, P. K. Weber, R. K. Stuart, Y. Shaked
The ISME Journal (2020) 14, 91-103.

Encapsulin carrier proteins for enhanced expression of antimicrobial peptides
T-H. Lee, T. S. Carpenter, P. D'haeseleer, D. F. Savage, M. C. Yung
Biotechnology and Bioengineering (2020) 117, 603-613.