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Sweet music for microbes

Published: 17 November 2014

In a new research project, researchers from Luleå University of Technology will investigate how microorganisms in biochemical processes reacts to different sound; audible sound and ultrasound. This is a unique experiment involving two research subjects at the university, Biochemical Process Engineering and Engineering Acoustics.

A variety of sound waves surrounds all living organisms in nature. Like all living organisms, microbes have very complex sensory network for monitoring their environment which affect their growth. The biological effect of sound is a fairly unexplored area which makes this project SOUnd-DRIven BIOtechnology, unique.

- This is a high-risk project, but it is important for us to try to find new ways to fine-tune microbial gene expression and metabolism in biochemical processes, says Paul Christakopoulos, professor in Biochemical Process Engineering at the university.

The research in Biochemical Process Engineering is focused on tne development of new environmentally friendly processes (green manufacturing technologies and sustainable development) using cell factories as key catalysts. To be competitive with petrochemical processes, it is essential that microbial conversions are executed with high productivity and yield. It is in these processes that the addition of sound ahve an influence and at best increase the efficiency.

- This is probably the first time that Engineering Acoustics are part of a research project in biotechnology and it will be very exciting. Our mission is to build and calibrate the sound environment that will be installed in the Biochemical Process Engineering Lab, said Anders Ågren, Professor in Engineering Acoustics.

The research project SOUnd-DRIven BIOtechnology is financed by the The Swedish Research Council.