Synthetic Biology – Institut for Plante- og Miljøvidenskab - Københavns Universitet

Contact research group leader

Birger Lindberg Møller
Professor
M: blm@plen.ku.dk
Ph: +45 35 33 33 52

Our aim is to develop solar driven production of many high-value, structurally complex compounds wanted by society. We achieve this by using combinatorial biochemistry and the plasticity of natural systems to transfer the production modules into the chloroplast – i.e. the light-driven powerhouse of the plant cell – and thereby reaching higher yields of the desired compound.

This involves a wide palette of expertise; e.g. plant pathway discovery, metabolon assembly, single molecule studies, structural analysis via scattering, mass spectrometry-based gas-phase structural biology and much more.

Our synthetic biology approach integrates legal studies, bioethics and communication to equip society and scientists to constructive dialogues on new technologies and Responsible Research and Innovation.

Find more information about the group in the menu below.

A movie by the American Society for Cell Biology presenting our work in plant based synthetic biology. The focus areas of the movie is plant pathway discoveries and inter-disciplinary research.

The group of synthetic biology researchers is wide spanning at the University of Copenhagen.

Research themes

  • Plant pathway discovery of interesting high-value natural products including diterpenoids, vanillin and derivatives, carminic acid and related compounds, and cannabinoids
  • Transfer of entire biosynthetic pathways to the chloroplast to obtain light driven synthesis of high-value products with carbon dioxide from the air as the sole carbon source
  • Cyanogenic glucosides as a model system for studying metabolic channeling
  • Natural Deep Eutectic Solvents as liquid crystals for high-density storage of bioactive natural products in soluble form in living cells without auto-toxicity effects
  • The linkage between lysine metabolism and systemic acquired resistance (SAR)
  • The role of N-hydroxy amino acids in biology
  • The establishing of a C-glucosyl transferase platform
  • Ethics, communication and legal aspects related to synthetic biology such as gene editing technologies
For students wishing to work within these topics,. M.Sc. and B.Sc. projects are currently available. Please contact blm@plen.ku.dk

Current research projects

  • ERC Advanced grant for “Light-driven Chemical Synthesis using Cytochrome P450s” Metabolic highways and metabolons
  • VILLUM Research Center for Plant Plasticity: Plasticity manifested in supramolecuar complexes and Biotechnological applications of plant plasticity
  • Lundbeck Foundation: “Brewing Diterpenoids” with focus on diterpenoids as drug leads for treatment of movement related diseases as Parkinson´s and Alzheimer´s
  • Novo Nordisk Foundation: “Desert-loving Therapeutics” with focus on identification of diterpenoids with interesting therapeutic properties within Eremophila species in the Western Australian desert
  • Australian Research Council:
    • Australia’s native sorghums: discovering new wild crop relatives
    • Light-driven P450: Using Photosynthesis to Power Fine Chemical Production
    • Evolution of the marsupial gut microbiome and adaptation to eucalypt toxins

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

  • The interaction of many different types of researchers in this group results in a highly interdisciplinary and active research environment. In addition to the basic research that we do, we like to see our research applied and therefore we collaborate with many different types of industries. Below you will find a selection of our network.
  • Australia

    University of Queensland: Phil Hugenholtz (koala microbiome), Ben Hankamer (light driven P450s), Elizabeth Gillam (ancestral sequence reconstruction). Currently funded by Australian Research Council

    University of Melbourne: Ian Woodrow (eucalypt terpenoids), Mike Bayly (plant systematics, chloroplast genome sequencing)

    University of South Australia: Susan Semple (natural products chemistry and aboriginal contact person)

    University of Perth: Bevan Buirchell (botanist)

    Faculty of Science
    (UCPH)

    Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences:
    Poul Erik Jensen
    Sotirios Kampranis
    Irini Pateraki

    Department of Chemistry
    Bo Wegge Laursen
    Karen Martinez
    Dimitrios Stamou
    Tom André Jos Vosch, spectrometry
    Nikos Hatzakis

    Niels Bohr Institute
    Kell Mortensen
    Lise Arleth
    Jesper Nygaard

    Faculty of Health
    (UCPH)

    Søren Balling Engelsen (FOOD, Chemometrics)

    Department of Neuroscience and Pharmacology
    Ulrik Gether
    Claus Juhl Løland
    Søren Gøgsig Faarup Rasmussen
    Kenneth Lindegaard Madsen

    Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology
    Dan Stærk, NMR structure elucidation

    Faculty of Humanities
    (UCPH)

    Department of Media, Cognition and Communication
    Maja Horst, Communication, Philosophy, Ethic
    Sune Holm

    Faculty of Law
    (UCPH) 

    Center for Information and Innovation Law
    Timo Minssen
    Ana Nordberg

    Others

    Evolva biotech, Chr. Hansen, River Stone
    Professor MSO David Budtz Pedersen, AAU, Interdisciplinarity
    Documentary Film maker Phie Ambo, Alpha Film
    bioART, Jens Hauser, UCPH, Dept of Arts and Cultural Studies, Medical Museion
    Associate professor Alfred Birkegaard Hansted, Roskilde Universitet
    Collaboratorium by HeleneElsass Center
    BiologiGaragen, Martin Malthe Borch etc.

    We have a large number of important additional collaborators who may be identified from our joint publications.