Bacteria’s ability to break down a multitude of diverse organic compounds in the biosphere is essential to maintaining the global carbon cycle and the health of ecosystems. Dr. Lindsay Eltis, Canada Research Chair in Microbial Catabolism and Biocatalysis, is working to better understand how harnessing the bacterial degradation of steroids and aromatic compounds, including lignin, could lead to more sustainable industrial processes as well as new drug targets.
Eltis has already helped identify cholesterol degradation as a drug target for treating Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Now, he and his research team are working to develop other novel tuberculosis treatments. They are also harnessing bacterial degradation activities to engineer biocatalysts and platforms to transform forest biomass into high-value products, such as resins, carbon fibres and commodity chemicals.