We focus on the microbial synthesis of flavor and fragrance compounds, functional ingredients and other chemicals, which can be neither produced chemically nor harvested from their natural sources in sustainable ways. Special interest is in terpenoids, fatty and amino acid derivates. Here, industrial biotechnology offers great opportunities to produce the desired target compounds by using wild type and engineered microbes and enzymes in a safe and environmentally friendly bioprocess under defined and reproducible conditions.
To develop microbial production hosts, we combine metabolic pathway engineering tools and microbiological screening and selection systems. Key challenges for industrial bioprocesses are product toxicity and low conversion yields. We investigate the mechanisms of microbial solvent tolerance to rationally design robust production strains. Investigating transcriptome, proteome and metabolome data leads to a deeper understanding of the molecular mechanisms in the producing cells. This knowledge is employed to develop more efficient production strains and process regimes exhibiting higher product titers and productivities. The biological part of our research is complemented by process engineering approaches already at an early stage of bioprocess development. We design new in situ product recovery systems based on adsorption, membrane separation or organic solvent extraction to fully harness the metabolic potential of the engineered production strains. Our research activities converge to tailored bioprocesses on laboratory or pilot scale as a proof-of-concept for novel biotechnological production strategies.
Our research on bioelectrochemical systems is described in the research cluster “integrated chemical-biotechnological production”