The industrial biotechnology of chemicals manufacture is one of the key enabling technologies in the 21st Century. The European chemicals industry is the largest in the world and biotechnology is poised to make a substantial impact on chemicals production (both bulk and fine chemicals) as we harness the biocatalytic potential of enzymes to develop green, innovative and competitive chemical processes. The manufacture of chiral molecules is a particular challenge. We are developing new biocatalysts to biosynthesise important groups of organic compounds that have high commercial value in the food, fragrances and fine chemicals industries. Extraction and distillation of some of our target molecules is often expensive, low-yielding and requires substantial expenditure of natural resources. Seasonal variation in supply and environmental conditions also affect production.
Enzyme-catalysed synthesis is attractive for the production of such compounds. We are developing synthetic biology progammes that allow regio- and stereo-selective biotransformations in sustainable processes for chemicals manufacture. This involves biocatalyst and pathway engineering, and integration with other areas of expertise such as computational and experimental systems biology, analytical sciences, chassis engineering and automation/robotics. Sustainable chemicals and fuels manufacture are Grand Challenge themes for the Manchester Institute of Biotechnology requiring cooperating teams of researchers across different disciplines.
Some Recent Synthetic Biology Publications:
- A toolbox for diverse oxyfunctionalisation of monoterpenes (2018) A. Hernandez-Ortega, M. Vinaixa, Z. Zebec, E. Takano, N. S. Scrutton. Scientific Reports 8, 14396, DOI: 10.1038/ s41598-018-32816-1
- Chemoenzymatic synthesis of the intermediates in the peppermint monoterpenoid biosynthetic pathway (2018) A. Ni Cheallaigh, H. S. Toogood, D. J. Mansell, A. Lygidakis, S. Tait, N. S. Scrutton, J. M. Gardiner. Journal of Natural Products. 81, 1546-1552, DOI: 10.1021/acs.jnatprod.7b01026.
- A living foundry for synthetic biological materials: a synthetic biology roadmap to new advanced materials (2018) R. Le Feuvre, N.S. Scrutton, Synthetic and Systems Biotechnology. 3, 105-112, DOI: 10.1016/j.synbio.2018.04.002
- Biocatalytic routes to lactone monomers for sustainable polymer production (2018) H.L. Messiha, S.T. Ahmed, V. Karuppiah, R. Suardiaz, G.A. Avalos, N. Fey, S. Yeates, H.S. Toogood, A.J. Mulholland, N. S. Scrutton, Biochemistry, 57, 1997-2008 DOI: 10.1021/acs.biochem.8b00169
- Bio-derived production of cinnamyl alcohol via a three step biocatalytic cascade and metabolic engineering (2018) E. Klumbys, Z. Ziga, N. Weise, N. J. Turner, N. S. Scrutton, Green Chemistry, 20, 658-663 DOI: 10.1039/C7GC03325G
- Retooling microorganisms for the fermentative production of alcohols (2017) H. S. Toogood and N. S. Scrutton, Current Opinion in Biotechnology, 50, 1-10, DOI: 10.1016/j.copbio.2017.08.010