Evolva scientists say diterpenoids are now commercially relevant targets for food ingredients, pharmaceuticals, and fragrances

March 13, 2016 |

In Switzerland, Evolva scientists, collaborating with researchers at the Plant Biochemistry Laboratory, University of Copenhagen, published  the paper “Expanding the Landscape of Diterpene Structural Diversity through Stereochemically Controlled Combinatorial Biosynthesis”,  in the International Edition of Angewandte Chemie,

Plant-derived diterpenoids are used extensively in food ingredients, pharmaceuticals, and fragrances. Conventional wisdom holds that they are too rare and structurally complex to be commercially useful. However, by mimicking the modularity of diterpene biosynthesis in plants, the authors constructed 51 functional combinations of Class I and Class II diterpensynthases, 41 of which are novel. Stereoselective biosynthesis of over 50 diterpene skeletons was demonstrated, including natural variants and novel enantiomeric or diastereomeric counterparts. Among others, the researchers produced a number of precursors for high-value diterpenoids such as forskolin (a cyclic AMP booster) and ambrox (an important fragrance molecule) by fermentation of bio-engineered strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (baker’s yeast).

“In this study we have once again demonstrated the synergies possible when you combine the knowledge on plant secondary metabolite biosynthesis and Evolva’s knowledge and toolset in yeast metabolic engineering,” said Evolva Senior Scientist Dr. Niels Bjerg Jensen.

“This work opens the door to the efficient and targeted production of a wealth of commercially interesting diterpenoids for both the food and flavor industries,” said Birger Lindberg Møller, Professor at the Plant Biochemistry Laboratory.

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