Marjorie Buss

Marjorie  Buss
MIT ChemE Undergraduate Research and Innovation Scholar
Advisor: Gregory Stephanopoulos
Department: Chemical Engineering
Areas of Research: Biomedical
Years: 2016-2017

Heterologous biosynthesis of coenzyme M to enable engineering of alkane and alkene metabolisms

Coenzyme M (CoM) is a key cofactor in methanogenesis in archaea as well as in alkene and epoxide catabolism in bacteria. These CoM-dependent metabolic pathways are of interest because they could be used for the bioconversion of harmful substrates to biofuels and other useful chemicals. For instance alkenes such as propylene and vinyl chloride that pose potential health hazards are degraded via CoM-dependent pathways to central metabolites. CoM-dependent pathways also assimilate greenhouse gases such as CO2 and methane. To enable these useful metabolic pathways to be implemented in typical metabolic workhorses such as E. coli CoM biosynthesis must first be engineered. This project aims to engineer CoM biosynthesis in E. coli by expressing known or putative CoM biosynthesis genes.

I am a junior majoring in Chemical-Biological Engineering and Biology. I worked in the Stephanopoulos Lab last year and this year I will continue in the lab on a new but related project for SuperUROP. I am excited to engineer the biosynthesis of CoM to enable engineering of useful metabolic pathways. I am also glad to improve my laboratory and research communication skills as I plan to pursue a PhD after MIT.