Our group is involved in the research of the biochemistry and biosynthesis of plant high-value specialized metabolites and more precisely terpenoids. Terpenoids are used by plants for defence and adaptation purposes. In addition, they are also exploited by humans as many of them have been proven effective in the treatment of a wide range of health disorders.
Our work is focused on the identification, elucidation and characterization of plant terpenoids biosynthetic pathways and development of platforms for heterologous production of high-value bioactive compounds. Using the principles of combinatorial biochemistry, we aim to develop new-to-nature diterpenoids with unique, altered or improved pharmacological properties.
Find more information about the group in the menu below.
- Elucidation of the biosynthetic pathways of plant produced bioactive diterpenoids. We are engaged mainly with medicinal plant species such as Coleus forskohlii (target compound: Forskolin), Vitex agnus-castus (target: dopaminergic compounds), T. wilfordii (target: Triptolide), Euphorbia lathyris and Euphorbia peplus (Target: ingenol-3-angelate pathway), Eremophila spp. (target: serrulatanes) and Ginkgo biloba (target: Ginkgolide diterpenoids).
- Combinatorial biochemistry by mixing and matching biosynthetic modules/enzymes from different species, in plant or yeast cells, to identify structural analogs or new-to-nature diterpenoids.
- Light-Driven biosynthesis of high-value diterpenoids by introducing elucidated terpenoid biosynthetic pathways into green cells such as cyanobacteria, algae or moss. This enables production driven by sunlight as the only energy source. Done in collaboration with Poul Erik Jensen’s Group at PLEN, UPCH.
- Sustainable production of diterpenoids: Through techniques of synthetic biology, we are introducing functional biosynthetic pathways in scalable heterologous hosts (e.g. yeast).
- Regulation of diterpenoids biosynthesis: We study the factors that regulate terpenoids biosynthesis at molecular and biochemical level. Forskolin pathway is used as model where structural and functional roles of the forskolin metabolon components are studied.
Current research projects
- From prehistory to the future: Expanding the potential of Ginkgo biloba – study the biosynthesis of Ginkgo terpenoids, funded by DFF, Grant holder Irini Pateraki
- Brewing Diterpenoids - platform for enhanced drug discovery , Grant holder Birger Lindberg Møller
- Desert-loving Therapeutics, 2017-2021 (Interdisciplinary Synergy Programme funding by Novo Nordisk Fonden). Profiling of the diterpenoid composition of all approx. 230 species of the Australian desert plant genus Eremophila and pathway elucidation of target diterpenoids based on their observed bioactivities, Grant holder Birger Lindberg Møller
- bioSYNergy – UCPH Excellence Programme for Interdisciplinary Research, Grant holder Birger Lindberg Møller
- ERC Advanced Grant: Light-driven Chemical Synthesis Using Cytochrome P450s, Grant holder Birger Lindberg Møller
- Plant Power: Light-driven synthesis of complex terpenoids using cytochrome P450s, Grant holder Birger Lindberg Møller
- Heskes AM, Sundram TCM, Boughton BA, Jensen NB, Crocoll C, Cozzi F, Rasmussen S, Hamberger Bj, Hamberger Br, Staerk D, Møller BL, Pateraki I. 2018. Biosynthesis of bioactive diterpenoids in the medicinal plant Vitex agnus-castus. The Plant Journal, doi:10.1111/tpj.13822.
- Hansen NL, Heskes AM, Hamberger B, Olsen CE, Hallström BM, Andersen-Ranberg J, Hamberger B. 2017. The terpene synthase gene family in Tripterygium wilfordii harbors a labdane-type diterpene synthase among the monoterpene synthase TPS-b subfamily. Plant J, 89: 429-441
- Pateraki I, Andersen-Ranberg J, Jensen NB, Wubshet SG, Heskes AM, Forman V, Hallström B, Hamberger B, Motawia MS, Olsen CE, Staerk D, Hansen J, Møller BL, Hamberger BR. 2017. Total biosynthesis of the cyclic AMP booster forskolin from Coleus forskohlii. eLife 10.7554/eLife.23001
- Luo D, Callari R, Hamberger B, Wubshet SG, Nielsen MT, Andersen-Ranberg J, Hallström BM, Cozzi F, Heider H, Møller BL, Staerk D, Hamberger B. 2016. Oxidation and cyclization of Casbene in the biosynthesis of Euphorbia factors from mature seeds of Euphorbia lathyris L. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 113, p. E5082-E5089
- Pateraki I, Andersen-Ranberg J, Hamberger B, Heskes AM, Martens HJ, Zerbe P, Bach SS, Møller BL, Bohlmann J, Hamberger BR. 2014. Manoyl oxide (13R), the biosynthetic precursor of forskolin, is synthesized in specialized root cork cells in Coleus forskohlii. Cover story. Plant Physiol.; 164:1222-1236.
Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences have various bachelor and master programs.
Partners and networks
- Professor Poul Erik Jensen, Department of Plant and Environmental Science, University of Copenhagen
- Professor Ulrik Gether, Department of Neuroscience, University of Copenhagen
- Dan Stærk, Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology, University of Copenhagen
- Dr Mike Bayly, University of Melbourne, Australia
- Bevan Buirchell, Wise Owl Consulting, Perth, Australia
- Dr Susan Semple, University of South Australia, Australia
- Evolva A/S
- Assoc. Professor Sotirios Kampranis, Department of Plant and Environmental Science, University of Copenhagen
- Professor Albert Boronat, University of Barcelona