Biotechnological applications for phenylpropanoids derived from biorefining

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Keir Bailey

York University, United Kingdom

Biorefining involves “refining” multiple useful products from biomass. Biorefining of plant fibres produces by-products, such as phenylpropanoids. These phenylpropanoid by-products can be used as feedstock to produce more useful, high-value compounds such as curcuminoids. Curcuminoids are diarylhepatanoids that gives turmeric its distinctive yellow colour. Research has shown these molecules to have anti-tumour, anti-cancer, anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory effects as well as providing neuroprotection. Therefore, the ability to sustainably produce these compounds in high yields is very lucrative. This project aims to produce curcuminoids and related novel compounds using Saccharomyces cerevisiae. This initially involves taking the two enzymes, diketide CoA synthase (DCS) and curcumin synthase 1 (CURS1), which produce curcuminoids in turmeric (Curcuma longa) and expressing them in yeast. The engineered yeast will then be fed using various phenylpropanoids and the yield of different curcuminoids will be monitored. The focus will then be to optimise this metabolic pathway and investigate ways of elaborating the chemical structure of curcuminoids by adding new enzymes to the system such as glucosyltransferases.