The research, led by Prof Ian Graham (Biology, University of York), will investigate the biosynthesis of diterpenoids. These naturally-occurring chemicals produced by plants have a huge range of uses (fragrances, pharmaceuticals, vitamins, sunscreen, sweeteners, …) but are only produced in small quantities, making their extraction too expensive for commercialisation. They’re also notoriously difficult to synthesis in the laboratory on a large-enough scale.
This project aims to exploit synthetic biology, the reprogramming of simple biological organisms, to get around these problems and produce the molecules in larger quantities. This will involve lots of chemical analysis, which is where Dr Brown and our state-of-the-art Chemical Analysis Facility will come in. In particular, our 700 MHz NMR spectrometer will be used extensively to determine the chemical structures of the diterpenoids produced and explore their biosynthesis in more detail.
Watch out for updates in a year or so!