Latest SCI publications

Latest Projects

Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2020-08-01 - 2023-07-31

Sugar beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. vulgaris) is a young crop plant that originated from wild sea beet (Beta vulgaris ssp. maritima), a coastal plant native to Western and Southern Europe. It has been shown that transposons have influence onto the genome structure and gene functionality of beets. Of the many different repeats contained in a genome, only a small subset is intact and fully functional. However, this small portion may have a huge impact on the genome and as consequence on the phenotype as well. By creating alternative splicing patterns, introduction of novel promoters, change of gene regulation or simply by inactivation of gene function. Thus, the genome is constantly in motion: Transposons get inserted into new positions in the genome; thereafter, selection and mutational processes act upon them. Repeats disrupting crucial functions will disappear quickly, while other elements which are neutral or even beneficial will stay on. By comparing different genomic sequence data of domesticated beets and their wild relatives, we assess the mutagenic events that took place in the beet genome in the recent evolutionary past and explore the role that transposons have played in the evolution of the beet genome. Advances in the repeat-related knowledge of the beet genome may discover new insights about recent transposon evolution and will provide a foundation for further improvements of beet as a crop plant.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2021-06-01 - 2025-05-31

Emissions reductions necessary to meet the Paris Agreement are unachievable without large-scale capture and use of CO2 emissions. VIVALDI offers an innovative integrated solution for the valorisation of CO2 emissions from different biomass-based industrial sectors (pulp/paper, biomass and ethanol) into added-value organic acids. VIVALDI embraces the whole value chain: 1) CO2 capture using a amine-based absorption combined with immobilised carbonic anhydrases 2) electrocatalytical CO2 reduction into C1 building blocks using novel electrode materials and reactor configurations, 3) fermentation of the C1s into organic acids via the Pichia pastoris microbial chassis and 4) recovery of nutrient/trace elements/energy from their own industrial wastewaters using bioelectroconcentration. VIVALDI will profit from the recent research advances of the partners to develop and validate, in strong collaboraton with industry sector, a feasible and sustainable value chain to valorise CO2 into organic acids with different market demands: lactic (already established), itaconic (recently industry-adopted) and 3-hydroxypropionic (still poorly established at industrial scale). Besides the concept, VIVALDI’s strength is the multidisciplinary and complementary consortium: partners with well-known R&D experience, large CO2-producers from each of the industry sectors, early technology adopters, experts in the market of novel solutions and large end-users of the chemical products.
Research project (§ 26 & § 27)
Duration : 2021-09-01 - 2023-08-31

WIDER RESEARCH CONTEXT Infection numbers and death tolls of COVID-19 are still climbing globally, while countries are torn between implementing more lockdown measures and tentatively reopening some aspects of economic and public life.The common ground is that more and especially focused testing for SARS-CoV-2 is essential for preventing the uncontrolled spread of new SARS-CoV-2 variants. Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) from respiratory specimens is the current gold-standard for diagnosis and mutation detection, but does not discriminate between infectious virus and non-infectious traces of viral RNA. Viral growth in cell culture is a direct measure of viral infectivity of a specimen, but is not amenable for routine diagnosis owing to long turnaround times and the necessity of high biosafety containment laboratories. A rapid test that determines the SARS-CoV-2 infectivity status of patients would provide front-line healthcare workers with an urgently needed tool in clinical patient management and could help to curb the spread of COVID-19, while saving precious health system resources and avoiding unnecessarily long quarantine for patients. We aim to address this bottleneck of contemporary COVID-19 diagnosis with the development of an innovative point-of-care (POC) test that allows to rapidly determine the SARS-CoV-2 variant and infectivity status of a patient. SCIENTIFIC OBJECTIVES Production of soluble trimeric SARS-CoV-2 spike protein (S), receptor binding domain (RBD) and soluble ACE-2 receptor as well as ACE-2 mutants with superior binding affinity for S. Production of recombinant baculoviruses and HIV-1 Gag virus-like particles pseudo-typed with the SARS-CoV-2 spike surface glycoprotein for being used as test analytes. Discrimination of wildtype SARS-CoV-2 and currently-threatening mutants (i.e. B1.1.7,B.1.351, P1, etc.) on basis of differential DNA-RNA (from S-, N-, E- regions) hybridization using clinical patient samples. Understanding bio-surface adsorption mechanisms. APPROACH Our consortium joins forces and combines the complementary expertise of three partners, covering 1) innovative electronic biosensor design and construction on basis of already implemented systems detecting bio-molecules in real-time (AIT), 2) the recombinant expression of complex SARS CoV-2 antigen analytes and receptors and their biochemical analysis (BOKU) and the 3) validation of SARS-CoV-2 diagnostic tests and access to clinical patient samples (MUV). LEVEL OF INNOVATION The innovation of the project is the development of a novel and rapid electronic diagnostic POC test that allows to determine whether SARS-CoV-2 in a patient sample is still intact and infective. We achieve this by concomitant detection of virus genetic material and intact virions based on an innovative bio-sensor surface in an electronic device, referenced by an optical measurement tool. PRIMARY RESEARCHERS INVOLVED: Robert Strassl, Anna Nele Herdina, Miriam Klausberger, Patrik Aspermair

Supervised Theses and Dissertations