Leandro Vieira dos Santos
Leandro Vieira is a research scientist at CTBE (Brazilian Bioethanol Science and Technology Laboratory). Bachelor in Biological Sciences (2007), Master (2009) in Microbiology at Federal University of Viçosa (UFV) and Ph.D. (2017) in Genetics and Molecular Biology at State University of Campinas (UNICAMP). He is also a collaborator researcher at UNICAMP. He was researcher at GranBio/BioCelere, being responsible for the development of C5-yeasts for use in 2G industry. The yeast developed was approved by the CTNBio and is currently being used in the industry. Recent research includes synthetic biology, metabolic and evolutionary engineering of yeasts to metabolize five-carbon (C5) sugars and for tolerance to multiple inhibitors from lignocellulosic biomass feedstocks, molecular basis for xylose adaptation, engineering of xylose transporters, thermotolerance and prospection of microorganisms and genes of industrial interest.
Development of a genomic atlas for second-generation ethanol production
The development of biocatalysts capable of fermenting xylose, an abundant five-carbon sugar in lignocellulosic biomass, is a key step to achieve a viable production of second-generation (2G) ethanol. Despite the engineering of Saccharomyces cerevisiae strains for 2G ethanol production dates from decades ago, the identification of the genetic basis emerged during the adaptive evolution processes, responsible for xylose assimilation and inhibitor tolerance, is still in its infancy and few information are available. Our research group have modified a robust industrial strain of S. cerevisiae by the addition of essential genes for pentose metabolism. Subsequently, after cycles of adaptive evolution with selection for optimal xylose utilization, strains could efficiently convert xylose to ethanol. Though evolved independently, strains shared genomic mutations which improved the ability to metabolize xylose without adaptive evolution, suggesting some key players in a complex signaling regulatory network for xylose fermentation. Our group is now focused on the development of a genomic atlas to identify the molecular basis involved in the metabolism and regulation of xylose consumption and tolerance to inhibitors present in hydrolysates from lignocellulosic materials. Our results will provide promising new targets for metabolic engineering of C5-yeasts to improve second-generation ethanol production.