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Assembly Series

A tradition of convening thought leaders since 1953

McKelvey School of Engineering

Brown School


Friday, March 29 | 11:00 AM - 12:00 PM

Uncas A. Whitaker Hall, Room 100
6760 Forest Park Pkwy, St. Louis, MO 63105, USA

Dr. Di Liu
Sandra National Lab

Engineering Rhodosporidium toruloides for the production of biofuels and bioproducts

Abstract:  Microbial production of valuable bioproducts is a promising route towards green and sustainable manufacturing. The oleaginous yeast, Rhodosporidium toruloides, has emerged as an attractive host for the production of biofuels and bioproducts from lignocellulosic hydrolysates. However, challenges exist for reaching the full biomanufacturing potential of this host due to lack of understanding of its metabolism and its limited genetic tools. Here I will discuss our efforts in leveraging functional genomics to elucidate gene functions and identify genetic targets to enhance the production of fatty alcohols and 3-hydroxypropionic acids. In conjunction with multiomic analysis, we employed a randomly barcoded T-DNA insertion library (RB-TDNAseq) and implemented high throughput fitness assays to guide the identification of non-intuitive gene targets as well as genes encoding product catabolism pathways. In addition, I will also discuss our efforts on genetic tool development in this host and ongoing collaborations within the Agile Biofoundry on developing an automation pipeline to enable high-throughput strain engineering and testing.

Biography: Di Liu is a Principal Member of the Technical Staff in Biomanufacturing and Biomaterials Department at Sandia National Laboratories (SNL). She received a B.S. degree in Materials Chemistry from University of Science and Technology of China and a Ph.D. degree in Energy, Environmental and Chemical Engineering from Washington University in St. Louis. Following her graduate studies, she worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the Agile Biofoundry (ABF) where she engineered R. toruloides to produce bioproducts including fatty alcohols and 3-hydroxypropionic acid from lignocellulosic hydrolysates and developed genetic tools in this host. She then transitioned into staff and currently leads the SNL ABF team and multiple projects on developing microbial processes for conversion of renewable feedstocks into fuels and bioproducts.

Event Type



McKelvey School of Engineering


Science & Technology



Energy, Environmental & Chemical Engineering


Event Contact


Speaker Information

Dr. Di Liu
Sandra National Lab

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