The Department of Biotechnology of Huazhong University of Science & Technology was founded in 1998. It was developed originally from the Department of Bioengineering that founded in 1981 in Central China Institute of Technology. The Department of Biotechnology has made significant achievements during the past 30 years. Nowadays, the Biotechnology specialty was national characteristic specialty and brand speciality of Hubei province.
The department of Biotechnology was constructed the talent-cultivation system from undergraduate to post-doctoral students which was focus on the science and engineering cross of medical and strengthening practice. The department have high-quality courses, such as, Biochemistry (national bilingual demonstration program ), Fermentation Engineering (national level excellent course), General Biology and cytology (provincial excellent course). The related teaching reform in education have obtained national teaching achievement award and provincial teaching achievement award for 1 and 2 times. The teachers also have obtained teaching quality award and teaching competition award for many times. The student research teams of iGEM HUST-China and BIOMOD HUST-China that constructed mainly the students from department of Biotechnology were achieved gold and silver medals for many times.
The main research areas in department of Biotechnology were including biological medicine, bioenergy, light chemical biological technology, plant biotechnology and agricultural biotechnology. The research results was win award of provincial science and technology progress award and geneva international invention exhibition gold award. The achievements in scientific research was gave strong support for many disciplines which could into the forefront ESI 1% of Biology and Biochemistry, Genetics and molecular Biology, Agronomy, it also give strong supports to microbiology, Botany and zoology. There are currently 22 faculty and staff members in the department, including 7 professors, 12 associate professors and senior engineers. Among them, there are 1 national outstanding contribution expert, 1 master teacher of Hubei province, 3 Outstanding talents in the new century of the Ministry of Education, 2 Project of Thousand Youth Talents and 3 Fund for Distinguished Young Scholars of Hubei province.
1. Bio-resource Technology and Green manufacturing
The interesting of this area are focus on research and development of bio-resource and biotechnology , importantly resolving the basic & key scientific problems in sieving, evaluating, protecting and comprehensive utilization of bio-resources by Biochemistry & Molecular biology, Genetic Enginerring, Cell enginerring, Fermentation engineering，and metabolic pathway & network regulation, etc. then apply them to biopharmacy, function food, bio-refinery and environmental bioremediation. The main goal is to realize the cleaner and inexpensive production of expensive pharmacy (treated on anti-cancer and cardio disease), Physiologically active substance (such as β-Carotene, polyunsaturated fatty acids and polysaccharide), Bio-based chemicals (such as lactic acid and butanol), biological materials (such as Ramie fiber) by biotechnology. The research results have won award of provincial science and technology progress first award and Geneva international invention exhibition gold award.
Fig1:Large scale culture technique of taxus cells
Fig2: The sieving, evaluating, protecting,and comprehensive utilization of MACA
2.Research interests of Institute of bioenergy and ecology
The research interests of Institute of bioenergy and ecology including (1) Lipase engineering. Mainly focusing on genetic engineering, structural biology, protein engineering, fermentation engineering, and enzyme immobilization of lipases, and its application in biodiesel, health-care products and pharmaceuticals, resolution of chiral drugs and organic synthesis, etc. (2) Biotechnological technology for bioenergy. Mainly focusing on key technologies for biodiesel production and its industrialization, synthetic biology for biodiesel, high-valued derivatives from biodiesel and its industrialization; anaerobic biohydrogen production and its metabolism regulation; energy algae and its metabolism regulation for oil accumulation. (3) Aquatic ecology. Mainly focusing on productivity ecology of aquatic ecosystems, food web structure and its dynamics in rivers and streams, ecotoxicology for heavy metal, insecticide and microcystins.
Figure 1 Immobilized lipase, whose immobilized efficiency attains > 91%, enzymatic activity is 150,000 IU/g, biodiesel conversion rate reached >96%, production cost is < 100 USD.
Figure 2 Co-display lipases CALB and TLL on the yeast cell for the first time as whole-cell catalyst, which have synergetic effect between each other when used to catalyze biodiesel preparation.
Figure 5 Oil-based polyurethane and its modified products
3. Biodegradation and bioconversion of biomass and xenobiotics
The aim of this area is to reveal the underlying mechanisms on degradation and bioconversion of lignocellulose and xenobiotics by wood decay fungi employing molecular tools (genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics) combining with traditional microbiological, biochemical and chemical analysis.We are interested in biofuel, biomaterials, bioactive substances from lignocellulose decomposition with low input biorefinery. We also interested in co-metabolism of lignocelluloseand environmental pollutants by wood decay fungi.
Fig 1. The mushroom group
Fig 2. HSQC spectra of milled wood lignin reveal the destruction of benzene ring skeletal structure, the decrease of p-coumaric acid and ferulic acid by wood decay fungi.
Fig 3. An integrated model to elucidate the co-metabolism of lignocellulose and dye by wood decay fungi.
Fig 4. Dietary fiber from pueraria root residue treated by wood decay edible fungi
4.Mechanism analysis for important economical characteristic formation in plants
The aim of this area is to reveal the underlying mechanisms of important economical characteristics formation in plant germplasm (for example, medicinal plant and cruciferae plant), which including (1) constructing the genetic linkage map and QTL mapping, gene cloning and gene function analysis of important candidate genes, (2) plant bioreactor and molecular designed breeding, (3) Integrated muti-genomics to analysis of complex network of important characteristics.
Fig 1. The QTL mapping of important agronomy characteristics Fig 2. Gene function analysis of candidate genes for fatty acid synthesis.
5. Discovery and application of novel enzymes from marine viruses
Group members: Xueling Lu; Ying Luo; Bin Zhu
Viruses in the ocean harbor the greatest diversity of proteins on the earth. Since a large portion of these proteins must play roles in nucleic acids metabolism, one would expect numerous novel mechanisms underlying the fundamental processes including transcription and DNA replication, and thus abundant molecular reagents therein. Our goal is to biochemically characterize novel viral polymerases, nucleases, nucleic acids-binding proteins, and those with activities not known previously from the ocean and develop their application in biomedical research and biotechnology.
Figure 1. Schematic representation of the interplay of T7 gp5.5, gp3, E. coli H-NS, and tRNA in cells infected with phage T7 in the presence (A) or absence (B) of T7 primase.
Figure 2. Model for switching between helicase and primase function. The potential interaction network at the interface between T7 helicase and primase domains in the hexamer functional unit (A) and the proposed switching among interacting residues in priming (B) and unwinding (C) states were shown.
Figure 3.Processivity of Syn5 and T7 RNA polymerases.(A)Agarose gel showing RNA synthesis by Syn5 RNA polymeraseand T7 RNA polymerase on a plasmid template containing a single Syn5 or T7 promoter. (B)The product shown in (A) was incubated with RNase I or DNase I to confirm that it contained RNA. (C) Effect of increasing KCl concentration on transcription by Syn5 RNA polymerase. (D) Products synthesized by Syn5 and T7 RNAP in a rolling-circle reactionwere analyzed under denaturing conditions. (E) Same assay as in (D) except that the plasmidtemplates were linearized as shown in the schematic. (F)The effect of decreasing concentration of T7 and Syn5 RNA polymerase on the processivity of transcription. (G) RNA polymerase promoter distribution on coliphage T7 and cyanophage Syn5 genomes.
6. Microbes and host crosstalk in gut environment
Group members: Liu Zhi, Zhang Jing, Ma Yao, Liu Lijun
There are 10 times more bacteria than human cells in our body, including probiotics, pathogens and commensal bacteria, which collectively modulate human disease and health. We are interested in addressing the molecular mechanisms of interaction between gut microbes and host environment, specifically (1) the composition and development of core microbiota in host gut environment; (2) Genetic response of gut probiotics and pathogens during colonization; (3) Identification and mechanism of probiotic factors.
Fig. Vibrio cholearecolonization on the surface of small intestine using Murine ex vivoAnaerobic Tissue (MEAT) model (by SEM).