PhD student Timo Maarleveld of CWI has developed new computer algorithms that improve the speed and acurateness of biological computer simulations. He defends his thesis on Thursday 17 December at the VU University Amsterdam. Promotors are Prof. Frank Bruggeman and Prof. Bas Teusink (both VU).
Timo Maarleveld developed a computer model of the metabolism of a cyanobacteria. This single-celled organism is interesting for its potential as 'cellular factory' in the production of biofuel. Using his computer model, Maarleveld computed the most efficient biological route for producing a biofuel. There are usually multiple routes, and combinations of routes, that can be used to optimize biofuel production. These routes form an optimal solution space: using a collection of biological routes to obtain the largest possible yield from cyanobaterica.
This collection of routes can be computed efficiently using a TimoTimo (a playful variation on the TomTom navigation systems). The TimoTimo uses a divide-and-conquer strategy to efficiently compute the specific collection of optimal routes. These results show that mathematics and computer science are developing into an essential component of research into complex biological systems.
This research is funded through BioSolar Cells, a large-scale research project in the TKI BioBased Economy (BBE). This project is financed by the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs, NWO, and several Dutch universities, research institutes and companies.
Image: An installation for the production of biofuel. Source: biosolarcells.nl