Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

Research • Educate • Connect
Towards a sustainable bioeconomy

ABBt - Applied Microbiology | RWTH Aachen


Prof. Dr. Lars Blank

Core Group Homepage


Research topics and profile (related to bioeconomy)

All projects of the institute are positioned to contribute to the development of a bioeconomy. The ultimate aim of the iAMB-Institute of Applied Microbiology is to use microbes to the benefit of environment, society, and economy. By studying the metabolism of bacteria and fungi, we aim to optimize and control a wide range of applications, ranging from the production of cleaner detergents, organic acids, and fine chemicals, to the spoilage of biodiesel, and the protection of crops. Through exploiting the versatility of life itself, we can convert biological substrates into a wide array of important chemicals. The building blocks for anything from fuel to plastic to medicine can be produced from biomass using bacteria or fungi as catalysts. In this way, biocatalysis can offer a cleaner, safer and environmentally friendlier alternative to traditional chemical synthesis. Conversely, microbes can also degrade a wide range of chemicals. While this can be beneficial (i.e., degradation of pollutants in the environment), it can also cause problems (i.e., spoilage). Thus, another important field of action of applied microbiology and the iAMB is the recycling and utilization of waste streams in a bioeconomy system. We can enable microorganisms to produce a wide array of chemicals by genetic engineering. However, for efficient production the metabolism of the organism must be re-routed to enhance product formation. In a process called metabolic engineering, specific reactions in the highly complex metabolic network of the organism are altered, introduced or deleted in order to increase the flux from substrate to product. This can be achieved by adding genetic ‘modules’ to the organism that encode enzymes that perform specific metabolic reactions, or by deleting the corresponding genes in the genome of the organism. The ultimate aim is rational strain engineering: to be able to predict, which genetic alterations in the highly complex organic system will lead to a desired effect.
The CoreGroup Blank is part of the project "MIX-UP" that is financed by the EU and in which novel ways for the upgrading of plastic waste streams shall be demonstrated.

Contributions to BioSC

The contributions of the iAMB are tools and running projects, which are all rooted in the development of the bioeconomy:

  • Metabolic Engineering of fungi and bacteria
  • Techniques for anaerobic bacteria to fully exploit the biodiversity
  • Computational biology for the rational design of whole cell biocatalysts
  • Quantitative physiology for the analysis of catalytic active cells
  • Transformations: the production of organic acids from biomass components
  • Transformations: design and synthesis of a whole cell biocatalyst for redox biocatalysis
  • Preservation: investigation of microbial contamination of biofuels
  • Transformations: development of a process for the production of biodetergents
  • Transformations: utilization of bioeconomy waste streams as substrate for microbial biochemical production