Plants make many interesting compounds that can be used directly or as precursor for different classes of chemicals such as monomers, nutraceuticals, pharmaceuticals, flavours and fragrances. However, commercialization of plant-derived specialty compounds is often hampered by low productivity, large spatial requirements and poorly predictable yields due to harvest, pest or climate problems. For these compounds, microbial production could be a promising alternative as microorganisms can grow in highly controlled environments using relatively inexpensive resources and are amenable to genetic modification. Shifting the production of these compounds from plant to microbial production platforms would thus make production of these chemicals more robust, more efficient and less expensive.
Microbial production of plant-derived compounds is often regarded as one of the landmarks of synthetic biology as cost-effective bacterial and fungal cell factories have been developed for the production of plant terpenoids. Still, only few alternatives exist for mass production of other classes of plant compounds like plant aromatics. To obtain desired yields and productivities, careful adjustment of the selected bacterial chassis is required to minimize undesired effects that limit productivity. This is a complex task as cross talk between the chassis and the newly introduced circuits can occur at multiple levels. Optimization of the chassis and the interplay with the production circuits is therefore best performed by using an engineering approach in which model-driven chassis design, standardization of parts, modularization, assembly and testing are essential part of the optimization cycle.
This project aims to develop a universal microbial chassis that is optimized for the production of a range of aromatic plant compounds. Building upon a curated metabolic model of actinobacteria, we will channel the carbon flow towards production of aromatic amino acids as precursors for synthetic orthogonal plant circuits for speciality plant aromatics.
|Effective start/end date||1/03/17 → 31/12/18|