Lars M. Blank

Lars M. Blank
RWTH Aachen University · iAMB - Institute of Applied Microbiology (Bio IV)

Prof. Dr.-Ing.

About

470
Publications
97,634
Reads
How we measure 'reads'
A 'read' is counted each time someone views a publication summary (such as the title, abstract, and list of authors), clicks on a figure, or views or downloads the full-text. Learn more
8,918
Citations
Citations since 2016
339 Research Items
6291 Citations
201620172018201920202021202202004006008001,0001,2001,400
201620172018201920202021202202004006008001,0001,2001,400
201620172018201920202021202202004006008001,0001,2001,400
201620172018201920202021202202004006008001,0001,2001,400
Introduction
Head of the chair Applied Microbiology at the iAMB - Institute of Applied Microbiology Lars M. Blank focuses in his research on fundamental and applied aspects of microbial metabolism. Of specific interest is the interaction between the metabolic network and the introduced genetic and environmental perturbations. The research on in silico/in vivo metabolic network operation is aimed at a deeper understanding of cell function, with the ultimate goal of rational cell engineering.
Additional affiliations
July 2011 - present
RWTH Aachen University
Position
  • Professor of Applied Microbiology
November 2004 - June 2011
Technische Universität Dortmund
Position
  • Group leader - Systems Biotechnology
June 2002 - October 2004
ETH Zurich
Position
  • PostDoc Position
Education
October 1992 - March 1997
Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Field of study
  • Biology
October 1990 - December 1997
Technische Universität Dortmund
Field of study
  • Chemical Engineering

Publications

Publications (470)
Article
The envisaged circular economy requires absolute carbon efficiency and in the long run abstinence from fossil feedstocks, and integration of industrial production with end-of-life waste management. Non-conventional feedstocks arising from industrial production and societal consumption such as CO2 and plastic waste may soon enable manufacture of mul...
Article
Inorganic polyphosphate (polyP) is the polymer of phosphate. Water‐soluble polyPs with average chain lengths of 2 to 40 P‐subunits are widely used as food additives and are currently synthesized chemically. An environmentally‐friendly highly scalable process to biosynthesize water‐soluble food‐grade polyP in powder form (termed bio‐polyP) is presen...
Article
Full-text available
High-titer biosurfactant production in aerated fermenters using hydrophilic substrates is often hampered by excessive foaming. Ethanol has been shown to efficiently destabilize foam of rhamnolipids, a popular group of biosurfactants. To exploit this feature, we used ethanol as carbon source and defoamer, without introducing novel challenges for rha...
Article
Considerable research achievements were made to address the plastic crisis using biotechnology, but this is still limited to polyesters. This Comment aims to clarify important aspects related to myths and realities about plastic biodegradation and suggests distinct strategies for a bio-based circular plastic economy in the future.
Article
Full-text available
The plastic crisis requires drastic measures, especially for the plastics’ end-of-life. Mixed plastic fractions are currently difficult to recycle, but microbial metabolism might open new pathways. With new technologies for degradation of plastics to oligo- and monomers, these carbon sources can be used in biotechnology for the upcycling of plastic...
Preprint
Full-text available
The novel multiphase loop reactor is a modified airlift reactor with an internal loop enabling continuous in situ liquid-liquid extraction. In this study, the reactor is applied for a microbial production of biosurfactants. The obligate aerobic bacterium Pseudomonas putida KT2440 was engineered for rhamnolipid production. Rhamnolipids are biosurfac...
Preprint
Since 2008, legislative initiatives for climate protection and reduced dependency on fossil resource imports led to the introduction of biofuels as CO2-reduced alternatives in the heating oil sector. In the case of biodiesel, the oil industry or its customers were confronted with accelerated and escalating microbial contaminations during heating oi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Despite advances in understanding the metabolism of Pseudomonas putida KT2440, a promising bacterial host for producing valuable chemicals from plant-derived feedstocks, a strain capable of producing free fatty acid-derived chemicals has not been developed. Guided by functional genomics, we engineered P. putida to produce medium- and long-chain fre...
Article
Poly‐γ‐glutamic acid (γ‐PGA) is a biopolymer with a wide range of applications, mainly produced using Bacillus strains. The formation and concomitant secretion of γ‐PGA increases the culture broth viscosity, while enzymatic depolymerisation and degradation of γ‐PGA decreases the culture broth viscosity. In this study, the recently published ViMOS (...
Article
The marine bacterium Alcanivorax borkumensis produces a surface-active glycine-glucolipid during growth with long-chain alkanes. A high-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) method was developed for absolute quantification. This method is based on the conversion of the glycine-glucolipid to phenacyl esters with subsequent measurement by HPLC wit...
Article
Triterpenoids are a subgroup of terpenoids and have wide applications in the food, cosmetics, and pharmaceutical industries. The heterologous production of various triterpenoids in Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as well as other microbes, has been successfully implemented as these production hosts not only produce the precursor of triterpenoids 2,3-oxid...
Article
Full-text available
Volatile organic compounds play an essential role in every domain of life, with diverse functions. In this study, we use novel secondary electrospray ionisation high-resolution Orbitrap mass spectrometry (SESI-Orbitrap MS) to monitor the complete yeast volatilome every 2.3 s. Over 200 metabolites were identified during growth in shake flasks and bi...
Preprint
Full-text available
Triterpenoids, one of the most diverse classes of natural products, have been used for centuries as active ingredients in essential oils and Chinese medicines and are of interest for many industrial applications ranging from low-calorie sweeteners to cosmetic ingredients and vaccine adjuvants. However, not only can the extraction from plant materia...
Article
Allicin is the main flavour component of crushed raw garlic. This plant defence molecule has strong antibiotic properties. While measurements in the liquid phase using LC-MS are established, accessing reactive organosulfur compounds in the gas phase is still a challenge due to heat-degradation in the gas chromatograph. Using a gentle secondary elec...
Article
Full-text available
Ustilago maydis is an important plant pathogen that causes corn smut disease and serves as an effective biotechnological production host. The lack of a comprehensive metabolic overview hinders a full understanding of the organism’s environmental adaptation and a full use of its metabolic potential. Here, we report the first genome-scale metabolic m...
Article
Full-text available
The yeast Ogataea polymorpha is an upcoming host for bio-manufacturing due to its unique physiological properties, including its broad substrate spectrum, and particularly its ability to utilize methanol as the sole carbon and energy source. However, metabolic engineering tools for O. polymorpha are still rare. In this study we characterized the in...
Article
Pseudomonas putida KT2440 has long been studied for its diverse and robust metabolisms, yet many genes and proteins imparting these growth capacities remain uncharacterized. Using pooled mutant fitness assays, we identified genes and proteins involved in the assimilation of 52 different nitrogen containing compounds. To assay amino acid biosynthesi...
Article
Full-text available
The family of Ustilaginaceae belongs to the order of Basidiomycetes. Despite their plant pathogenicity causing, e.g., corn smut disease, they are also known as natural producers of value-added chemicals such as extracellular glycolipids, organic acids, and polyols. Here, we present 17 high-quality draft genome sequences (N50 > 1 Mb) combining third...
Article
Full-text available
Acetaldehyde is a platform chemical with a production volume of more than 1 Mt/a, but is chiefly synthesized from petrochemical feedstocks. We propose the fermentative conversion of glucose towards acetaldehyde via genetically modified S. cerevisiae . This allows for ethanol-free bioactaldehyde production. Exploiting the high volatility of the prod...
Article
Full-text available
The family Ustilaginaceae attracted attention in the field of industrial biotechnology, featuring a versatile product spectrum comprising organic acids (e. g., itaconate), polyols (e. g., erythritol), and extracellular glycolipids. This study focusses on establishing an Ustilago biocatalysts to (co-) consume the CO 2 -derived substrates acetate and...
Article
Full-text available
With their ability of CO 2 fixation using sunlight as an energy source, algae and especially microalgae are moving into the focus for the production of proteins and other valuable compounds. However, the valorization of algal biomass depends on the effective disruption of the recalcitrant microalgal cell wall. Especially cell walls of Chlorella spe...
Article
Full-text available
Background & Aims Decompensation is a hallmark of disease progression in cirrhotic patients. Early detection of a phase transition from compensated cirrhosis to decompensation would enable targeted therapeutic interventions potentially extending life expectancy. This study aims to (1) identify predictors of decompensation in a large, multicentric c...
Article
Full-text available
We herein present a detailed overview of recycling techniques for common bioplastics including a detailed evaluation by life cycle assessment.
Preprint
Full-text available
Pseudomonas putida KT2440 has long been studied for its diverse and robust metabolisms, yet many genes and proteins imparting these growth capacities remain uncharacterized. Using pooled mutant fitness assays, we identified genes and proteins involved in the assimilation of 52 different nitrogen containing compounds. To assay amino acid biosynthesi...
Article
Full-text available
This article introduces the EU Horizon 2020 research project MIX-UP, "Mixed plastics biodegradation and upcycling using microbial communities". The project focuses on changing the traditional linear value chain of plastics to a sustainable, biodegradable based one. Plastic mixtures contain five of the top six fossil-based recalcitrant plastics [pol...
Article
Full-text available
Over the decades, global plastic production has been exponentially increasing with a significant increase of plastic waste as well. Consequently, our environment has suffered a lot because synthetic plastic is less biodegradable or even not completely biodegradable. On the other hand, the conventional recycling rate and plastic management in the to...
Article
Full-text available
Cis,cis-muconic acid (CCM) is a promising polymer building block. CCM can be made by whole-cell bioconversion of lignin hydrolysates or de novo biosynthesis from sugar feedstocks using engineered microorganisms. At present, however, there is no established process for large-scale CCM production. In this study, we developed an integrated process for...
Article
A key aspect of the transformation of the economic sector towards a sustainable bioeconomy is the development of environmentally friendly alternatives for hitherto used chemicals, which have negative impacts on environmental health. However, the implementation of an ecotoxicological hazard assessment at early steps of product development to elabora...
Article
Full-text available
Metabolic engineering relies on modifying gene expression to regulate protein concentrations and reaction activities. The gene expression is controlled by the promoter sequence, and sequence libraries are used to scan expression activities and to identify correlations between sequence and activity. We introduce a computational workflow called Exp2I...
Preprint
Full-text available
Biotechnology has experienced innovations in analytics and data processing. As the volume of data and its complexity grows, new computational procedures for extracting information are developed. However, the rate of change outpaces the adaptation of biotechnology curricula, necessitating new teaching methodologies to equip biotechnologists with dat...
Article
Full-text available
The obligate aerobic nature of Pseudomonas putida, one of the most prominent whole-cell biocatalysts emerging for industrial bioprocesses, questions its ability to be cultivated in large-scale bioreactors, which exhibit zones of low dissolved oxygen tension. P. putida KT2440 was repeatedly subjected to temporary oxygen limitations in scale-down app...
Article
Full-text available
We present a generic workflow combining physiology‐based computational modeling and in vitro data to assess the clinical cholestatic risk of different drugs systematically. Changes in expression levels of genes involved in the enterohepatic circulation of bile acids were obtained from an in vitro assay mimicking 14 days of repeated drug administrat...
Article
Full-text available
Many wild type Pseudomonas strains have the potential to contribute to the valorization of lignin in future biorefineries. Through a robust aromatic catabolism, i.e., biofunneling capacity, they can ease the inherent aromatic heterogeneity found in lignin hydrolysates and accumulate naturally marketable biopolymers like mcl-polyhydroxyalkanoate (mc...
Article
Full-text available
Over 359 million tons of plastics were produced worldwide in 2018, with significant growth expected in the near future, resulting in the global challenge of end-of-life management. The recent identification of enzymes that degrade plastics previously considered non-biodegradable opens up opportunities to steer the plastic recycling industry into th...
Article
While it is well recognized that the frequency and intensity of flood events are increasing worldwide, the environmental, economic, and societal consequences of remobilization and distribution of pollutants during flood events are not widely recognized. Loss of life, damage to infrastructure, and monetary cleanup costs associated with floods are im...
Preprint
Full-text available
This article introduces the EU Horizon 2020 research project MIX-UP, “Mixed plastics biodegradation and upcycling using microbial communities”. The project focuses on the ambitious vision to change the traditional linear value chain of plastics to a sustainable, biodegradable based one. In MIX-UP, plastic mixtures containing five of the top six fos...
Article
Full-text available
Bio-upcycling of plastics is an upcoming alternative approach for the valorization of diverse polymer waste streams that are too contaminated for traditional recycling technologies. Adipic acid and other medium-chain-length dicarboxylates are key components of many plastics including polyamides, polyesters, and polyurethanes. This study endows Pseu...
Article
Brewers’ spent grain (BSG) is produced worldwide in millions of tons during the beer brewing process. Due to its high content of structural carbohydrates, BSG is a promising material for being valorised in biorefineries. In this study three process routes for producing itaconate from BSG hydrolysates are presented using the previously engineered sm...
Article
Full-text available
The bioeconomy is a paramount pillar in the mitigation of greenhouse gas emissions and climate change. Still, the industrialization of bioprocesses is limited by economical and technical obstacles. The synthesis of biosurfactants as advanced substitutes for crude-oil based surfactants is often restrained by excessive foaming. We present the synergi...
Article
Full-text available
Background Ogataea polymorpha is a thermotolerant, methylotrophic yeast with significant industrial applications. While previously mainly used for protein synthesis, it also holds promise for producing platform chemicals. O. polymorpha has the distinct advantage of using methanol as a substrate, which could be potentially derived from carbon captur...
Article
Full-text available
It is generally recognized that proteins constitute the key cellular component in shaping microbial phenotypes. Due to limited cellular resources and space, optimal allocation of proteins is crucial for microbes to facilitate maximum proliferation rates while allowing a flexible response to environmental changes. To account for the growth condition...
Article
Polyurethanes (PUR) are ranked globally as the 6th most abundant synthetic polymer material. Most PUR materials are specifically designed to ensure long-term durability and high resistance to environmental factors. As the demand for diverse PUR materials is increasing annually in many industrial sectors, a large amount of PUR waste is also being ge...
Article
Various studies have described remarkable biological activities and surface-active properties of rhamnolipids, leading to their proposed use in a wide range of industrial applications. Here, we report on a study of the effects of monorhamnolipid RhaC10C10 and dirhamnolipid RhaRhaC10C10 incorporation into model membranes of varying complexity, inclu...
Article
Full-text available
The family Ustilaginaceae (belonging to the smut fungi) are known for their plant patho-genicity. Despite the fact that these plant diseases cause agricultural yield reduction, smut fungi attracted special attention in the field of industrial biotechnology. Ustilaginaceae show a versatile product spectrum such as organic acids (e.g., itaconate, mal...
Article
Full-text available
In times of ever-increasing demand for chemicals and the subsequent increase in CO2 in the atmosphere, we have to intensify our efforts to establish a circular (bio) economy [...]
Article
We present an integrated process for in situ CO 2 hydrogenation during bioethanol production combining bio- and chemo-catalysis. The biphasic catalytic system comprises an aqueous whole-cell fermentation broth and a tailored...
Article
Quantitative knowledge of intracellular fluxes in metabolic networks is invaluable for inferring metabolic system behavior and the design principles of biological systems. However, intracellular reaction rates can not often be calculated directly but have to be estimated; for instance, via 13C-based metabolic flux analysis, a model-based interpreta...
Article
Full-text available
The production of biosurfactants is often hampered by excessive foaming in the bioreactor, impacting system scale-up and downstream processing. Foam fractionation was proposed to tackle this challenge by combining in situ product removal with a pre-purification step. In previous studies, foam fractionation was coupled to bioreactor operation, hence...
Preprint
Full-text available
Strain engineering in biotechnology modifies metabolic pathways in microorganisms to overproduce target metabolites. To modify metabolic pathway activity in bacteria, gene expression is an effective and easy manipulated process, specifically the promoter sequence recognized by sigma factors. Promoter libraries are generated to scan the expression a...
Article
Full-text available
Background Itaconic acid is a bio-derived platform chemical with uses ranging from polymer synthesis to biofuel production. The efficient conversion of cellulosic waste streams into itaconic acid could thus enable the sustainable production of a variety of substitutes for fossil oil based products. However, the realization of such a process is curr...
Article
Full-text available
Sufficient supply of oxygen is a major bottleneck in industrial biotechnological synthesis. One example is the heterologous production of rhamnolipids using Pseudomonas putida KT2440. Typically, the synthesis is accompanied by strong foam formation in the reactor vessel hampering the process. It is caused by the extensive bubbling needed to sustain...
Article
The end-of-life plastic crisis is very prominent in the research area and even in the public realm. Especially, for plastic polymers that are difficult to recycle via traditional routes such as the polyurethanes (PUs), novel routes should be investigated. In 2015, PU contributed about 16 million metric tons of global plastic waste. While polymer de...
Preprint
Full-text available
Ustilago maydis, member of the Ustilaginaceae family, is a promising host for the production of several metabolites including itaconic acid. This dicarboxylate has great potential as a bio-based building block in the polymer industry, and is of special interest for pharmaceutical applications. Several itaconate overproducing Ustilago strains have b...
Article
Excessive foaming causes instabilities in fermentation processes, particularly when producing biosurfactants, which can be overcome by intensifying the fermentation via insitu product recovery. A reductive, multi-step approach for selecting organic solvents for an in situ liquid-liquid extraction of rhamnolipids produced by recombinant Pseudomonas...