Dr Esteban Marcellin
Dr Esteban Marcellin

BSc Chem Eng, PhD UQ
Associate Group Leader


Telephone: +61 7 33463158, Email: e.marcellin@uq.edu.au

Research Summary

Most chemicals are currently derived from fossil feedstocks. Dr Marcellin’s research is trying to shift production of these chemicals to more sustainable alternatives; by using living cells as cell factories we are converting bio-based feedstocks into chemicals and fuels. Our research goes beyond conventional sugars as fermentation feedstocks: we are using gasified waste as a more sustainable alternative. Gas fermentation not only does not compete with arable land or the food chain but is also readily available at a low cost. To produce value added chemicals however, cells need to be metabolically engineered and new processes need to be developed and optimized.

To achieve this goal, we use systems metabolic engineering, a powerful novel approach which guides the improvement of biological processes by identifying gene targets for engineering. Using a knowledge driven approach that takes advantage of the growth in high throughput omics (genomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics proteomics and phosphoproteomics) coupled with mathematical models, we can understand, predict, and optimize the properties and behaviour of cells (e.g. identification of gene targets for knock out/up-regulation). The combination of these experimental and computational tools can also be used to drive yields and productivities close to capacity. Generally, these improvements require various iterative rounds. Thus, the models are constantly refined and validated using biological (omics) data leading to further rounds of metabolic engineering, which in the end, drive cells close to the maximum theoretical yield.

In collaboration with leaders in the industry, we are currently applying systems metabolic engineering to produce propionic acid, enhance clostridial vaccine yields and to increase the production scope of gas fermenting bacteria.

Key publications

Marcellin E, Steen JA, Nielsen LK (2014) Insight into hyaluronic acid molecular weight control. Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology 98: 6947-56. PMID: 24957250.

Licona-Cassani C, Lim SA, Marcellin E, Nielsen LK (2014) Temporal dynamics of the Saccharopolyspora erythraea phosphoproteome. Molecular and Cellular Proteomics 13: 1219-1230. PMID: 24615062

Marcellin E, Licona-Cassani C, Mercer TR, Palfreyman RW, Nielsen LK (2013) Re-annotation of the Saccharopolyspora erythraea genome using a systems biology approach. BMC Genomics 14:699. PMID: 24118942. Open access

Marcellin E, Mercer TR, Licona-Cassani C, Palfreyman RW, Dinger M, Steen JA, Mattick JS, Nielsen LK (2013) Saccharopolyspora erythraea's genome is organised in high-order transcriptional regions mediated by targeted degradation at the metabolic switch. BMC Genomics 14:15. PMID: 23324121. PMC3610266

Marcellin E, Chen W, Nielsen LK (2010) Understanding plasmid effect on hyaluronic acid molecular weight produced by Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus. Metabolic Engineering 12: 62–69. PMID: 19782148.

Chen WY, Marcellin E, Nielsen LK (2009) Hyaluronan molecular weight is controlled by UDP-N- acetylglucosamine concentration in Streptococcus zooepidemicus. J Biol Chem 284:18007-14. PMID: 19451654.

Recent publications

Full list of publications available at UQ eSpace.

Dr Esteban Marcellin section

AIBN Systems and Synthetic Biology

Marcellin: Current Research Projects

On this site