Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems

Molecular biotechnology

Molecular biotechnology group led by Prof. Alexander Frey aims on the rational design and engineering of molecular and cellular factories for production of novel and improved products. A key question we address is how we can embed novel, complex molecular processes into cells and apply these engineered cell factories successfully in industrial production processes.
Aalto-yliopisto, liput / kuvaaja: Aino Huovio

Research themes

Bakers's yeast as a test bed

Yeast has been used for thousands of years to make food and drink. More recently, yeast has also been scientifically well studied and used in the production of pharmaceuticals, vaccines, secondary metabolites or bioenergy. Using baker’s yeast as a working horse, we create new ways to make “tried and tested” products – however in a more efficient way as in the existing production methods.

Engineering biology: From isolated molecular components via modules to complex living systems

In nature, the most basic active entities are proteins, which besides serving as structural elements, function as regulatory molecules or catalysts. Proteins exhibiting defined regulatory or catalytic activities can be assembled into functionally active modules, and these modules can be assembled into complex systems that can fulfill the desired tasks.

Oligosaccharide-based active ingredients

Carbohydrates are ubiquitous molecules with very diverse functions ranging from energy source to structural elements in cells. Furthermore, certain oligosaccharides such as N-glycans have the ability to modulate the functions and properties of proteins they are attached to. However, in recent years it has become clear that oligosaccharides themselves can modulate many biological processes. Together with Valio we explore novel ways to build bioactive oligosaccharides that could be produced in an industrial scale and used as active ingredients in food applications.

Metagenomics: new functionalities from nature

To match the ever-growing need for novel bioproducts and pharmaceuticals, metagenomics is as an alternative method for isolation of novel enzymes and pathways. In this approach all the DNA found in an environmental sample is isolated and transferred to a surrogate host for functional expression and testing. Using this method, new enzymes can be discovered. 

Latest publications

Mining Data From Plasma Cell Differentiation Identified Novel Genes for Engineering of a Yeast Antibody Factory

Essi V. Koskela, Alina Gonzalez Salcedo, Mari A. Piirainen, Heidi A. Iivonen, Heidi Salminen, Alexander D. Frey 2020 FRONTIERS IN BIOENGINEERING AND BIOTECHNOLOGY

Biocatalytic Production of Amino Carbohydrates through Oxidoreductase and Transaminase Cascades

Ville Aumala, Filip Mollerup, Edita Jurak, Fabian Blume, Johanna Karppi, Antti E. Koistinen, Eva Schuiten, Moritz Voß, Uwe Bornscheuer, Jan Deska, Emma R. Master 2019 ChemSusChem

Effect of in-situ hydrogen forming reagents on hydrothermolysis of organosolv lignin

Farhan Hashmi, Leena Pitkänen, Anne Usvalampi, Kyösti Ruuttunen, Herbert Sixta 2019

Tailoring N-Glycan Biosynthesis for Production of Therapeutic Proteins in Saccharomyces cerevisiae

Mari A. Piirainen, Heidi Salminen, Alexander D. Frey 2019 Methods in molecular biology (Clifton, N.J.)

Production and characterization of Aspergillus niger GH29 family α-fucosidase and production of a novel non-reducing 1-fucosyllactose

Anne Usvalampi, Marcela Ruvalcaba Medrano, Hannu Maaheimo, Heidi Salminen, Olli Tossavainen, Alexander D. Frey 2019 Glycoconjugate Journal

Inhibitory effects of Scots pine heartwood extractives on enzymatic holocellulose hydrolysis by wood decaying fungi

Tiina Belt, Filip Mollerup, Tuomas Hänninen, Lauri Rautkari 2018 International Biodeterioration and Biodegradation
More information on our research in the Research database.
Research database

Research group members

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