Dr Bhuvana Shanbhag

ARC Postdoctoral Research Fellow
ARC Hub for Energy-Efficient Separations

Monash University

Dr Bhuvana Shanbhag graduated from Anna University, India with a Bachelor’s degree in Industrial Biotechnology and Masters in Industrial Biotechnology at SASTRA University, India. She worked as Senior Scientist at Biocon Research Ltd, Bangalore India for 5 years on the development of downstream process for Anti-diabetic drugs. Her passion for research brought her to Monash University, where under Dr Lizhong He’s supervision, completed her PhD in Chemical Engineering. Her notable research outcomes on self-assembly of enzymes include a patent and recognition of the research achievement as a finalist for IChemE Global biotechnology awards in 2016. Currently she is a Research Fellow at the ARC Research Hub for Energy-Efficient Separation, Monash University and works on novel and cost-effective approaches in bioprocessing of bioactive materials. Her research interests include advanced biocatalyst development, protein self-assembly and environmental biotechnology. She is also passionate about teaching and highlighting research to young minds and the broader community.

Engineering Enzyme-peptide Fusion Systems with Self-assembly Ability as Advanced Biocatalysts

Chemical industry increasingly use enzymes to catalyze reactions. Free enzymes have strong catalytic functions but cannot be reused. Immoblization onto solid supports makes enzymes reusable but compromises their activities. For sustainable industrial application, enzymes have to be efficient, cheap and reusable. The reasearch in this thesis has focussed on improving the reusability of enzymes using a novel self-assembly approach and simultaneously retaining its original efficiency. Inspired by nature’s ways of self-organisation, enzymes were engineered to self-assemble into nanoparticles without compromising their catalytic performance. Just like a shoal of fish that spontaneously forms large groups, the engineered enzymes form nanoparticles 20-60 times larger than individual enzyme. In this thesis, the self-assembly of enzymes has been researched and four key goals have been achieved that include (i) Conceptualisation, development and testing of our model system using enzyme Bovine carbonic anhydrase and P114 peptide, (ii) Understanding the mechanisms that control self-assembly, tuning enzyme particle sizes using pH and metal ions and development of an emprical model for predicting particle sizes, (iii) Reusability of these carrier-free nanobiocatalysts using ultrafiltration and centrifugation methods and (iv) Development of enzyme nanoparticles as a platform technology through the systematic evaluation of four industrially important enzymes. In summary, the research here provides a third generation of biocatalyst with self-assembly feature for efficient reuse. This innovative approach can advance enzymes to be economically competitive as sustainable biocatalysts for chemical industry.