Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems

Biochemistry

The biochemistry group led by Prof. Silvan Scheller develops biotechnological routes to convert CO2 to renewable fuels.
Conversion of CO2 to Ethane as a renewable ship fuel
Example of ethane as a renewable fuel for ships

Our research areas:

  1. Biochemical CO2 valorization

  2. Metabolic engineering of archaea

  3. Anaerobic biochemistry

 

 

Research themes:

We utilize biotechnological procedures to convert CO2 to renewable fuels. We carry out research on a fundamental level via in vitro systems (enzymes), and we use metabolic engineering (in vivo) to construct new pathways for the conversion of CO2 to fuels.

 

 

 

Microbes and Enzymes:

We currently study the biochemistry and genetics of methanogens. 

Methanogens are microbes with the ability to reduce CO2 to methane (biogas, a one-carbon fuel). The individual reduction steps are carried out at cofactors, such as H4MPT and coenzyme M.

The overall research goal is to extend this chemistry towards producing 2-4-carbon fuels (liquefied petroleum gas: ethane, propane or butane) that can be easily liquefied at room temperature. It serves the purpose of converting CO2 with renewable energy to a storable fuel.

 

Methodologies and Tools:

We perform genetic engineering with methanogens of the orders Methanosarcinales and Methanococcales. Due to their oxygen sensitivity, all manipulations are carried out in anaerobic chambers or incubators.  Methanococcus maripaludis is utilized as a genetic work horse for the expression of archaeal proteins and for designing new metabolic pathways.

We conduct mechanistic studies with enzymes purified from Methanothermobacter marburgensis, a methanogen that grows at 65 °C to high cell densities, allowing to access large amounts of native enzymes and cofactors. This organism is currently the only source to obtain the enzyme Mcr in the active form, which is prerequisite to study its catalytic mechanism. Biochemistry is studied by a range of different methods, such as: anaerobic expression of enzymes, experiments with isolated cofactors, kinetic studies, measurement of equilibria, electrochemistry, synthesis of substrate analogues, isotope effects, NMR and EPR studies, DFT calculations.

 

Silvan Scheller

We are an interdisciplinary group of people who try to be game-changers.

Professor Silvan Scheller, head of the research group
Labcoat and notebook

Join us!

We have an official opening for a Postdoc (DL to apply: 31. March). 

https://www.aalto.fi/en/open-positions/postdoctoral-researcher-in-biochemistry-enzymology

We are always looking for ambitious researchers on all levels (Postdocs, PhD students or MSc students). Please send your CV and a short description on why you are motivated to Prof. Silvan Scheller ([email protected]).

Related news and events:

Access to sustainable energy – a global challenge

This session of Aalto Sustainability Talks discusses access to affordable and clean energy from a global perspective.

Aalto Sustainability Talks 27.11.2020: Access to sustainable energy - a global challenge

Curiosity is a pathway to science

Researchers are shaping the future. If you want to become a researcher, it is important to be curious and question everything, says Professor Silvan Scheller.

Silvan Scheller
Jacs cover

Selected publications:

  1. Artificial electron acceptors decouple archaeal methane oxidation from sulfate reduction. 2016. Science, Silvan Scheller, Hang Yu, Grayson L Chadwick, Shawn E McGlynn, Victoria J Orphan
  2. Methyl-coenzyme M reductase from methanogenic archaea: Isotope effects on the formation and anaerobic oxidation of methane. 2013. Journal of the American Chemical Society, Silvan Scheller, Meike Goenrich, Rudolf K Thauer, Bernhard Jaun
  3. Methyl-coenzyme M reductase from methanogenic archaea: isotope effects on label exchange and ethane formation with the homologous substrate ethyl-coenzyme M. 2013. Journal of the American Chemical Society, Silvan Scheller, Meike Goenrich, Rudolf K Thauer, Bernhard Jaun
  4. The key nickel enzyme of methanogenesis catalyses the anaerobic oxidation of methane. 2010. Nature, Silvan Scheller, Meike Goenrich, Reinhard Boecher, Rudolf K Thauer, Bernhard Jaun
  5. Intermediates in the Catalytic Cycle of Methyl Coenzyme M Reductase: Isotope Exchange is Consistent with Formation of a σ‐Alkane–Nickel Complex. 2010. Angewandte Chemie International Edition, Silvan Scheller, Meike Goenrich, Stefan Mayr, Rudolf K Thauer, Bernhard Jaun

 

Latest publications:

 

 

Deconstructing Methanosarcina acetivorans into an acetogenic archaeon

Christian Schone, Anja Poehlein, Nico Jehmlich, Norman Adlung, Rolf Daniel, Martin von Bergen, Silvan Scheller, Michael Rother 2022 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Exploiting pilus-mediated bacteria-host interactions for health benefits

Vinay Sharma, Ingemar von Ossowski, Vengadesan Krishnan 2021 MOLECULAR ASPECTS OF MEDICINE

Xanthomonas type III effectors manipulate stromules

J. L. Erickson, N. Adlung, C. Lampe, M. H. Schattat, U. Bonas 2019 MOLECULAR PLANT-MICROBE INTERACTIONS

Microbial Interconversion of Alkanes to Electricity

Silvan Scheller 2018 Frontiers in Energy Research

Trans-10, cis-12 Conjugated Linoleic Acid Induces Lipid Degradation and Attenuates Fatty Acid Desaturation in Yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Sanna Hokkanen, Ossi Pastinen, Alexander Frey 2017 Advances in Biotechnology and Microbiology

Catabolic Pathways and Enzymes Involved in Anaerobic Methane Oxidation

Silvan Scheller, Ulrich Ermler, Seigo Shima 2017 Anaerobic Utilization of Hydrocarbons, Oils, and Lipids

Engineered Hydrophobin for Biomimetic Mineralization of Functional Calcium Carbonate Microparticles

Hanna Heinonen, Päivi Laaksonen, Markus Linder, Hans-Peter Hentze 2014 Journal of Biomaterials and Nanobiotechnology

Engineering the exo-loop of Trichoderma reesei cellobiohydrolase, Cel7A. A comparison with Phanerochaete chrysosporium Cel7D

Ingemar von Ossowski, Jerry Ståhlberg, Anu Koivula, Kathleen Piens, Dieter Becker, Harry Boer, Raija Harle, Mark Harris, Christina Divne, Sabah Mahdi, Yongxin Zhao, Hugues Driguez, Marc Claeyssens, Michael L. Sinnott, Tuula Teeri 2003 JOURNAL OF MOLECULAR BIOLOGY
More information on our research in the Research database.
Research database
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