Bioeconomy Science Center
Research and cooperation for a sustainable bioeconomy

Bioeconomy Science Center
Research and cooperation for a sustainable bioeconomy
11.05.2020

Sustainable hydrocarbon production: BMBF follow-up project to BioSC project granted

On the basis of the BioSC project HySyn, which ended in 2019, the Institute of Molecular Enzyme Technology (HHU Düsseldorf) and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology have acquired a follow-up project from the BMBF. HySyn started to characterize a recently discovered enzyme family of algae that produces alkanes and alkenes. This work is being continued in the BMBF project FAPBiotech. The results of the project should help to pave the way for sustainable hydrocarbon production.

Alkanes and alkenes are among the most important classes of hydrocarbons for the production of next generation biofuels and plastics. In 2017, a new class of alkane/alkene-synthesizing photoenzymes (fatty acid photodecarboxylases; FAPs) was discovered in the algae Chlorella variabilis and Chlamydomonas reinhardtii. However, important biotechnologically relevant properties of FAPs such as substrate spectrum, stability, activity and immobilisation potential have not yet been fully characterised. In addition, their phylogenetic distribution and hence the existence of alternative FAPs with potentially superior properties is largely unexplored, and metagenomic sources in particular have not yet been used to identify new FAPs.

The BioSC SEED FUND project HySyn started at the end of 2018 with the aim to fill these gaps. During the 12-month funding period, the expression, purification and immobilization of a known and a new FAP were optimized. In the course of the 9-month feasibility study within the BMBF FAP-Biotech project, first steps will be taken to identify new fatty acid photodecarboxylases (FAPs) outside the genera already described (Chlorella, Chlamydomonas). These will be phylogenetically and structurally classified in order to obtain a broad overview of the distribution and distinguishing characteristics of the FAPs, which has not been available so far. Interesting enzymes will be expressed, purified, biochemically and structurally characterised and thus made available for biotechnological use.

The BioSC SEED FUND project HySyn started at the end of 2018 with the aim to fill these gaps. During the 12-month funding period, the expression, purification and immobilization of a known and a new FAP were optimized. In the course of the 9-month feasibility study within the BMBF FAP-Biotech project, first steps will be taken to identify new fatty acid photodecarboxylases (FAPs) outside the genera already described (Chlorella, Chlamydomonas). These will be phylogenetically and structurally classified in order to obtain a broad overview of the distribution and distinguishing characteristics of the FAPs, which has not been available so far. Interesting enzymes will be expressed, purified, biochemically and structurally characterised and thus made available for biotechnological use.