High-Value Phytochemicals – Institut for Plante- og Miljøvidenskab - Københavns Universitet

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.

Research themes

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

Current research projects

Key publications

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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
  • Research centres

    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

    Ekstra information / Sidebar