Improving Plants for Biomanufacturing
Improving the plant ‘production chassis’ for the manufacture of useful, biologically active small molecules.
A great many natural products are used as human therapies. However, these chemicals are often found in low abundance or are produced in species that are difficult to cultivate.
Synthetic biology has demonstrated that biological organisms can be re-programmed to produce natural products, providing a viable alternative to chemical synthesis and petroleum-powered manufacturing.
Much work has been done to tailor specific strains of bacteria and yeasts to increase production of natural products but plants have also been shown to be capable of efficient expression of therapeutic proteins and secondary metabolites. They are cheap to grow and maintain, mainly requiring just water and light and are capable of producing proteins and secondary metabolites in just a few days.
To date, little effort has been spent on improving plants for biomanufacturing. In this project we aim to understand why some molecules are difficult to produce and use new technologies to increase yields.