How does the composition of the cell membrane determine its physico-chemical properties? - Yeast membrane engineering and characterisation of membrane supra molecular structure -
Research Project, 2021 – 2023

We hypothesize that lipid composition determines the cell membrane’s properties not only by virtue of the physico chemical properties of the single lipid species, but also by their capacity of forming supramolecular structures. The overall ambition of the proposed project is to infer general rules linking the abundance of certain lipid species with the resulting supramolecular organisation of the membrane. The project will focus on the membrane of the model organism S. cerevisiae. First, new yeast strains, with altered membrane composition will be created by metabolic engineering. The membranes with alternate composition will also be modelled and their properties computed with molecular dynamics simulations. In addition, membrane permeability to undissociated weak organic acids will be measured. This will allow to understand if and how the introduced lipids affect the membrane permeability. Next, the supramolecular structure of the membranes in engineered yeast, such as the presence of ordered lipid areas and disruptions in the lamellar structure, will be investigated by neutron scattering and live-cell fluorescence microscopy. This will show if and how the introduced lipids organize themselves in the membrane. The project will build a foundation for future membrane engineering strategies and will in addition find application for drug delivery and food preservation studies.


Lisbeth Olsson (contact)

Chalmers, Life Sciences, Industrial Biotechnology

Maurizio Bettiga

Chalmers, Life Sciences, Industrial Biotechnology


Swedish Research Council (VR)

Project ID: 2020-04782
Funding Chalmers participation during 2021–2023

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