Carbon-carbon bond formation is an essential reaction in organic chemistry, as well as being a major constituent reaction of secondary metabolite pathways that lead to valuable natural products such as alkaloids. Enzymes in nature that catalyse these reactions have the advantage that bond formation is stereospecific, and these enzymes can be recruited for application in industrial biotransformation processes and also in synthetic biology pathways. Many of these enzymes are found in plants, but the expression and application of plant enzymes has been historically challenging.
In this project we propose to express, engineer and apply C-C bond forming enzymes from plants to the synthesis of valuable chemical intermediates.
Dr Lichman is interested in the mechanism and evolution of plant biosynthetic enzymes, and the origin of metabolic pathways.
Professor Grogan works on the identification, characterisation and application of new enzymes that have potential applications in biotechnology, including those for the production of chiral pharmaceutical precursors and the bioprocessing of renewable materials.