Bioeconomy Science Center
Research and cooperation for a sustainable bioeconomy

Bioeconomy Science Center
Research and cooperation for a sustainable bioeconomy
SEED FUND 2.0 project HySyn

Fatty acid photodecarboxylases for hydrocarbon synthesis


Alkanes and alkenes are one of the most important classes of hydrocarbons for the production of next-generation drop-in biofuels and plastics. Last year, a new class of alkane/alkene synthesizing photoenzymes was discovered in the algae Chlorella variabilis and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii, which for  catalysis rely on blue-light illumination (christened fatty acid photodecarboxylases; FAPs). Despite their  promise as efficient alkane/alkene-producing biocatalysts, important biotechnologically-relevant properties remain largely uncharacterized and their phylogentic distribution, and hence alternative FAPs,  with potentially superior biotechnologically-relevant properties, remain to be identified and explored. The HySyn SEED FUND project fills this gap. To this end, the two currently known FAPs of C. variabilis and C. reinhardtii, as well as newly, by gene mining and sequencing of related/resilient microalgae, identified FAP enzymes will be analyzed with regard to their biotechnologically-relevant properties such as accepted substrate range, stability, activity and the potential for immobilization. The envisioned project will thus form the sound scientific basis for the future application of FAP enzymes for the production of bio-based hydrocarbons such as e.g. drop-in biofuels.

What is the relevance and the impact for the Bioeconomy?

The bioeconomy has to challenge the classical productions based on fossil raw materials. To allow a  successful market integration of processes based on renewable raw materials, products with beneficial properties application wise or in economical or ecological aspects have to be developed. In the FocusLab HyImPAct, the processing of renewable resources towards precursors is investigated, emphasizing the importance of producing a large product diversity in terms of purity and molecules. HyImPAct thereby focusses on further processing towards active pharmaceutical ingredients (API) but stretches the importance of a production network starting from renewable platform chemicals (precursors). In this project, we propose to extend the network based on the precursors of HyImPAct to produce high performance biofunctionalized bioplastics. The project connects biotechnological and chemical transformations by integrating separation technology, exploiting the advantages of the energy revolution. Showing alternative ways by taking advantage of today’s energy will establish a sustainable bioeconomy. Furthermore, an important aspect in the raw material cycle is closed by proving products biodegradability and demonstrating the impact of a sustainable bioeconomy in a more functionalized world of products with highly reduced ecological footprint in its lifecycle. The unique aspect of this project is the holistic combination of biotechnological produced precursors from renewables, their purification to achieve demanded purity of the precursors, their polycondensation/polymerisation to bioplastics and their subsequent transformation to biofunctional materials, achieving biofunctional bioplastics, or what we call bio2plastics. Characterization of the materials will specifically look at the biodegradability of these products and their potential for different biotechnological and biomedical applications. Herein, the developed bio2plastics shall also serve as containers (microgels or capsules) for drugs and other active ingredients in close connection to the FocusLab GreenRelease for plant health.


SEED FUND 2.0 Coordinator

Dr. Ulrich Krauss
Molecular Biophotonics
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
phone: +49 2461 612939



Prof. Dr. Karl-Erich Jaeger, Dr. Ulrich Krauss, Molecular Enzyme Technology, Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf

Prof. Dr. Björn Usadel, Botany and Molecular Genetics , RWTH Aachen University

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schurr, Dr. Holger Klose, IBG-2, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH


Funding period

01.10.2018 - 30.09.2019



The total budget of HySyn is 87,454 €. HySyn is is part of the NRW-Strategieprojekt BioSC and thus funded by the Ministry of Culture and Science of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.