Contact research group leader

Sotirios Kampranis
Associate Professor
M: soka@plen.ku.dk
Ph: +45 35 33 29 89

Our long term vision is to promote sustainable living by replacing harmful chemical synthesis and over-harvesting of natural resources with biological synthesis. Focusing on natural products, the complex molecules used as pharmaceuticals, flavors or colorants, we engineer microorganisms, algae or plant cells for the production of high-value compounds.

By applying synthetic biology principles, we develop versatile production platforms that can accept exchangeable module-specific parts to reproduce and potentially expand the chemical diversity found in nature.

This approach spans a wide range of activities, from the identification of the biosynthetic pathways, to the engineering of the parts involved, and the optimization of the “chassis”.

Find more information about the group in the menu below.

Research themes

Three main research themes run across and unify our current research projects. These are:

1. Chemical diversity
We are exploring the modularity of our platforms to recreate and expand the diversity of chemical structures found in nature. In this effort we are focusing on the production of molecules with known biosynthetic origin, the discovery of missing biosynthetic steps for valuable compounds, and the development of methods for the synthesis and characterization of new-to-nature compounds.

2. Modularity
We are addressing the concept of modularity in synthetic biosystems at different levels: pathway, organellar, and organismal. In the process, we are developing concepts and tools for the modular reconstruction of pathways, the conversion of specific subcellular structures into dedicated modular microfactories, and the engineering of synthetic symbiotic systems.

3. Sensing
We are developing sensitive and versatile biosensors for the detection of extracellular or intracellular metabolites, with application in the regulation of pathway fluxes, the establishment of high-throughput assays for enzyme function (e.g. cytochrome P450s or terpene synthases), and the broader detection of molecules with environmental or medical significance.

For students wishing to work within these topics,. M.Sc. and B.Sc. projects are currently available. Please contact soka@plen.ku.dk

Current research projects

  • Elucidating and reconstructing the biosynthesis of the anti-cancer agent Taxol. A paradigm for the production of structurally complex high-value compounds in cell factories (Supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation).
  • Transforming yeast organelles into micro-factories for the modular assembly of complex biosynthetic pathways (Supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation).
  • Improving metabolic channeling in engineered systems using natural biosynthetic complexes as a source of inspiration (In collaboration with Nikos Hatzakis - Supported by the European Commission – H2020 program).
  • Establishing a yeast cell factory for high-value triterpenoids (In collaboration with Soren Bak - supported by the Danish Foundation for Independent Research (IRFD) and the Novo Nordisk Foundation)
  • Applying retro-synthetic principles for the systematic reconstruction of custom biosynthetic pathways for high-value compounds.
  • Establishing intracellular and extracellular biosensors for the monitoring and regulation of pathway function (Supported by the European Commission – H2020 program).
  • A synthetic biology approach for the exploitation of marine natural products as pharmaceuticals or biofuels (Supported by the European Commission – H2020 program).
  • Engineering synthetic symbiosis to develop autotroph-heterotroph consortia that can harvest light to convert carbon dioxide to valuable compounds (Supported by the Villum Foundation).

Training opportunities for M.Sc. and B.Sc. students on these topics are currently available, contact soka@plen.ku.dk.

Key publications

Group members

For students

Are you interested in doing a project, you can read more about your options in the project database

  • Project database for students

  • Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences have various bachelor and master programs.

  • Read more about the options here