Birger Lindberg Møller

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University of Copenhagen, Department of Plant Biology and Environmental Sciences, Plant Biochemistry Laboratory
Møller, Birger Lindberg

Birger Lindberg Møller obtained his PhD and DSc from the University of Copenhagen in 1975 and 1984. He is Professor at the Plant Biochemistry Laboratory at the University of Copenhagen. In the period 1998-2008 he served as Head of Center for Molecular Plant Physiology (PlaCe) founded by the Danish National Research Foundation. In 2008, he was appointed Director of the research centre “Pro-Active Plants” supported by the Villum Foundation and in 2010, Director of the Center for Synthetic Biology funded by the Danish Ministry of Science.

In 2011 he became Director of the section for “Plant Pathway Discovery” in the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for BioSustainability. One of his main research interests within synthetic biology is the design of light driven production systems for the synthetis of bio-active natural plant products like structurally complex diterpenoids.

Thu July 11 | 2:00 - 4:00 | Parallel Session
ABSTRACT: Plant power: The ultimate way to 'go green'

Photosynthetic organisms are able to use solar energy and carbon dioxide for the production of organic compounds. Based on initial formation and subsequent turn-over of carbohydrates, plants channel energy flux and carbon into specific biosynthetic pathways to optimize growth and development and adapts to abiotic and biotic environmental challenges by producing bioactive defense compounds. Several of these compounds are structurally complex and highly valuable pharmaceuticals used in the treatment of serious human diseases like cancer. Unfortunately such compounds are typically produced in small amounts by plants and sometimes also in plant species difficult to grow on a commercial scale. Most of the pathways responsible for the formation of the compounds involve cytochrome P450 catalyzed key steps difficult to copy using organic chemical synthesis. Using the “share-your- parts” principle of synthetic biology, we have now succeeded in breaking the evolutionary compartmentalization of energy generation and production of bioactive compounds. As proof-of-concept, we have relocated the entire P450 dependent pathway for the cyanogenic glucoside dhurrin to the chloroplast. The P450s were incorporated into the thylakoid membranes and shown to be driven by the reducing power generated by photosystem I with reduced ferredoxin as the direct electron donor to the P450s. Likewise, it was possible to directly incorporate P450s into the photosystem I reaction center complex by using some of the small subunits of this complex as membrane anchors instead of the native P450 anchors with the long term goal of building a supra-molecular enzyme complex catalysing light driven synthesis of pharmaceuticals and other interesting bioactive molecules. The production systems are being developed and optimised using transient expression in tobacco as the experimental system followed by stable transformation of cyanobacteria and moss strains grown in closed photobioreactors. Key target compounds are structurally complex diterpenoids.

  • TED talk:
  • Redirecting Photosynthetic Reducing Power toward Bioactive Natural Product Synthesis  A.Z. Nielsen, B. Ziersen, K. Jensen, L.M. Lassen, C.E. Olsen, B.L. Møller, and P.E. Jensen: ACS Synth. Biol., February 19, 2013   DOI: 10.1021/sb300128r