Harnessing biocompatible chemistry for developing improved and novel microbial cell factories

Jian-Ming Liu, Christian Solem, Peter Ruhdal Jensen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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White biotechnology relies on the sophisticated chemical machinery inside living cells for producing a broad range of useful compounds in a sustainable and environmentally friendly way. However, despite the impressive repertoire of compounds that can be generated using white biotechnology, this approach cannot currently fully replace traditional chemical production, often relying on petroleum as a raw material. One challenge is the limited number of chemical transformations taking place in living organisms. Biocompatible chemistry, that is non-enzymatic chemical reactions taking place under mild conditions compatible with living organisms, could provide a solution. Biocompatible chemistry is not a novel invention, and has since long been used by living organisms. Examples include Fenton chemistry, used by microorganisms for degrading plant materials, and manganese or ketoacids dependent chemistry used for detoxifying reactive oxygen species. However, harnessing biocompatible chemistry for expanding the chemical repertoire of living cells is a relatively novel approach within white biotechnology, and it could potentially be used for producing valuable compounds which living organisms otherwise are not able to generate. In this mini review, we discuss such applications of biocompatible chemistry, and clarify the potential that lies in using biocompatible chemistry in conjunction with metabolically engineered cell factories for cheap substrate utilization, improved cell physiology, efficient pathway construction and novel chemicals production.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMicrobial Biotechnology
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)54-66
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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