Rice: Unconventional Wisdom
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Metabolic Engineering and Biomanufacturing Laboratory

Clementina Dellomonaco


Laurea, Industrial Biotechnology, University of Bologna, Italy, 2004.
Ph.D., Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Rice University, Houston (TX), 2011(expected).



Project Description

The great hope in today’s world is the production of fuels and chemicals from waste products via fermentation.
Although lignocellulosic sugars have been proposed as the primary feedstock for the biological production of renewable fuels and chemicals, the availability of fatty acid (FA)-rich feedstocks and recent progress in the development of oil-accumulating organisms make FAs an attractive alternative. In addition to their abundance, the metabolism of FAs is very efficient and could support product yields significantly higher than those obtained from lignocellulosic sugars. However, FAs are metabolized only under respiratory conditions, a metabolic mode that does not support the synthesis of fermentation products.

My project deals with the engineering of several native and heterologous fermentative pathways to function in E. coli under aerobic conditions, thus creating a respiro-fermentative metabolic mode that enables the efficient synthesis of fuels and chemicals from FAs. In particular my research efforts thus far have targeted representative biofuels (ethanol and butanol) and biochemicals (acetate, acetone, isopropanol, succinate and propionate) to illustrate the feasibility of this platform. Phenotypes of interests have been characterized via the implementation of conventional metabolic engineering and fermentation technology techniques, and system-wide approaches.


  1. Dellomonaco, C., Rivera, C., Campbell, P. & Gonzalez, R., Engineered respiro-fermentative metabolism for the production of biofuels and biochemicals from fatty acid-rich feedstocks, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 76 (15), 5067-5078, 2010.
  2. Dellomonaco, C., Fava, F., & Gonzalez, R., The path to next generation biofuels: successes and challenges in the era of synthetic biology, Microbial Cell Factories, 9(3), 2010.
  3. Dellomonaco, C., Amaretti, A., Zanoni, S., Pompei, A., Matteuzzi, D. & Rossi, M., Fermentative production of superoxide dismutase with Kluyveromyces marxianus, Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, 34(1), 2007.


Edgar O’Rear Travel Grant, Rice University, Houston, TX, Nov. 2010.

Novartis International Biotechnology Leadership BioCamp, Novartis Institute for BioMedical Research (NIBR), Cambridge, MA, Oct. 26-30 2009.

Marie Curie Research Fellowship in the framework of the European Control Training Site (CTS), Center for Systems Engineering and Applied Mechanics (CESAME), Université Catholique de Louvain, Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, Feb. – Aug. 2006.

Spinner European Global Grant for Innovative and/or high knowledge content business ideas, Bologna, Italy, 2005.

Spinner European Global Grant for Industrial Research, experimental development, technology transfer, a research collaboration between University of Bologna (Bologna, IT) and Gnosis Inc. (Desio, IT).


Contact Information

Abercrombie Lab, C124
Rice University
6100 Main Street MS-362
Houston, TX, 77005
Phone (713) 348-3078
Fax (713) 348-5478