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Chemicals and Fibres

Application Domain Leader: Colin Scott

The modern world is absolutely reliant on the production of natural and synthetic chemicals and fibres. They are used in our clothes, housing, medicine, high tech devices (e.g. touch screens), transportation (vehicles and fuel) and every other aspect of our lives. Synthetic biology has a substantial role in delivering the next generation of efficient, cost-effective and sustainable manufacturing technologies

The Chemicals and Fibres Application Domain is supporting projects that will develop the next generation of chemical producing micro-organisms. These ‘chassis organisms’ will be engineered in future to efficiently produce the chemicals that we use every day through fermentation, which is essentially the same process used to produce wine and beer. We are investing in technologies that will accelerate metabolic engineering, reducing the time and cost needed to re-engineer chassis organisms to produce new chemicals.

This Domain is also undertaking projects that seek to repurpose cellular devices that are needed to conduct chemical reactions and support efficient chemical production in the next generation of chassis organisms, improving the production efficiency and reducing waste and energy use.

Finally, we are working on introducing subtle changes that improve natural products, such as making it possible to colour cotton with safer dyes or improving the effectiveness of natural pesticides and herbicides.

Projects by outcome area

Chassis organisms

  • A synthetic diatom mini-chromosome for specialised synthetic biology functions in microalgae
  • A modular design and construction platform for high-throughput strain engineering in cyanobacteria
  • From one to many: Synthetic yeast chassis for C1 metabolism
  • Yeast methylotrophy as a new production platform
  • Development of expandable artificial plant chromosome in the moss Physcomitrella patens

Accelerated metabolic engineering

  • Reprogramming plants for improved and sustainable agriculture: An OpenPlant platform
  • Development of platform technologies for metabolic engineering via directed evolution.
  • Deploying regulatory network engineering for advanced yeast biorefinery

Repurposed cellular devices

  • Development of novel transcriptional regulators and synthetic logic gares for sophisticated control of plant activity and production
  • Novel transport proteins for Synthetic Biology
  • Artificial cell compartments for yeast metabolic engineering
  • Cell-on-a-chip
  • Nanomachine v2.0
  • Orthogonal redox metabolism
  • Novelty by design: expanding the biochemical toolbox

Enhanced natural products

  • Novel terpene based agrochemicals – smart agricultural applications of strigolactones.
  • Exploring strigolactone diversity through metabolic engineering
  • Novel synthetic plant fibres