Unraveling gene regulatory networks in thermoacidophilic archaea

Project Details


Gene regulatory networks are crucial for the adaptation and survival of microbes that thrive in extreme conditions but are greatly understudied in extremophiles belonging to the archaea, a distinct domain of life. More specifically, in thermoacidophilic archaea belonging to Sulfolobus spp. found in volcanic hot springs and growing optimally at 75°C and pH 2-3, only a small subset of
transcription factors have a known physiological role characterized by genetic analysis. Although genetic tools are available for Sulfolobus, their implementation is currently hampered by inefficient genetic transformation. With this research grant, we will establish a microfluidic platform for the optimization of genetic transformation of thermoacidophilic archaea. The implementation of a labon-a-chip approach will enable to monitor the electroporation process and to analyze the effects of easily controllable parameters such as temperature and pH on successful DNA uptake. This platform will realize a faster workflow for strain construction in which genes predicted to encode transcription factors are deleted or overexpressed resulting in a rigorous analysis of transcription factor-mediated
gene regulatory networks underlying the physiology of extremophilic archaea living at the limits of life. On a longer term, this knowledge is used and the platform extended to construct synthetic genetic circuitries in a high-throughput manner for biotechnological applications with archaea.
Short title or EU acronymFWO Research Grant
Effective start/end date1/01/1831/12/18


  • microbiology