Bcc bacteria hold extraordinary metabolic capacities that can be exploited in biotechnological applications. My laboratory has developed several genetic tools that can be applied in gene and genome editing to manipulate desired features in Burkholderia strains while reducing their pathogenicity. The latest technology we are developing is CRISPR-based interference of gene expression. This novel technique, which has been applied to a limited number of bacteria but needs to be customized to specific characteristics of Bcc bacteria.
In collaboration with Dr. David Levin, From Biosystems Engineering, U. of Manitoba, we are looking into the ability of Bcc bacteria to degrade polyesters used in the production of biodegradable plastics. Once the most active strains are identified, we will study the specificity of the bioplastic degrading enzymes, and the genetic elements involved. The next step will be to edit the strain’s genome to produce a strain active regarding biodegradation, but defective in terms of pathogenicity.