Rights: The University of Waikato Published 5 December 2008 Download

Enzymes have uses in industry and in our homes. Why do we need to use directed evolution to improve these enzymes?


David Ackerley (Victoria University, Wellington): Directed evolution is useful to improve enzymes in a wide range of contexts. My own work has medical applications, but I think the majority of applications have been previously in industry. There’s the hungry enzymes from laundry detergents, and these are things like lipases, which break down fats, and cellulases, which break down cellulose, grass stains, that kind of thing.

There is no reason why nature would have selected for this enzyme to be really efficient in a 50 degree hot wash with alkaline conditions, so with directed evolution, we can actually put those proteins [enzymes] into that kind of condition and select the ones that function better under whatever conditions we like.

Breanna Watson