Alkaloid Biosynthesis and Transport

Uncovering the chemical secrets of plants

Plants are the world’s greenest chemists. Powered by solar energy, they produce a variety of natural products with medicinal and industrial applications. However, the precise manner in which plants produce and mobilize many of these compounds remains unknown. Our group combines a solid background in chemistry with state-of-the-art technologies in a quest to uncover the chemical secrets of plants, with special focus on alkaloids. Biotechnological applications include the production of medicinal compounds in cost-effective systems and the removal of anti-nutritional compounds from promising crops.

 

 

 

  • Alkaloid biosynthesis. Alkaloids are a class of natural products that have had an enormous impact on the quality of human life. Their impressive range of bioactivities has led to utilization as pharmaceuticals, stimulants, and pesticides (e.g. morphine, caffeine, nicotine). Our group specializes in the discovery of plant enzymes involved in the conversion of simple metabolic building blocks into complex alkaloid structures.
  • Alkaloid transport. Very often, plant alkaloids are accumulated in tissues that are different from the ones that produce them. Our group investigates the long-distance networks translocating alkaloids from biosynthesis sites to storage sites, with emphasis on the discovery of transporter proteins.
  • Synthetic biology. We use our discoveries to devise strategies for the cost-effective production of medicinal alkaloids in production hosts such as yeast or the model plant Nicotiana benthamiana. In cases where toxic alkaloids accumulate in promising crop plants, we use novel breeding technologies to remove the toxic alkaloids from the edible parts of the plant in a selective manner.

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

 

 

 

 

  • Towards sustainable protein sources for Europe: biosynthesis of the lupin alkaloids (VILLUM Young Investigator grant, 2017-2022)
  • NovoCrops – Accelerated domestication of resilient, climate-change friendly plant species (WP leader, NNF Challenge Programme, 2020-2025)
  • ZEN – Zero-vicine faba beans (DFF-FTP Project 2, 2022-2025)
  • Sustainable production of the glaucoma drug pilocarpine (DFF-FTP Project 2, 2022-2025)

 

 

 

 

The Department of Plant and Environmental Sciences has various BSc and MSc programmes:

We are happy to discuss projects for BSc and MSc students, including projects outside of the regular coursework (Projekt Uden for Kursusregi, PUK). Please contact group leader Fernando Geu-Flores (feg@plen.ku.dk)

 

 

 

 

Our group is part of the NNF-funded NovoCrops centre.

 

 

 

 

Alkaloid biosynthesis in faba bean:

  • Stig Uggerhøj Andersen (Aarhus University, Denmark)
  • Alan Schulman (University of Helsinki, Finland)
  • Sanja Roje (Washington State University, USA)

Alkaloid biosynthesis and transport in lupins:

  • Matthew Nelson (Kew Gardens, UK)
  • Benjamin Péret (University of Montpellier, France)
  • Magdalena Kroc (Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland)
  • Hussam Nour-Eldin (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)

Alkaloid biosynthesis in jaborandi:

  • Guilherme Oliveira (VALE Institute of Technology, Brazil)

Synthetic biology:

  • Nicola Patron (Earlham Institute, UK)
  • Sotirios Kampranis (University of Copenhagen, Denmark)
  • Toni Wendt (Traitomic, Carlsberg A/S, Denmark)

 

 

 

Group members

Navn Titel Telefon E-mail
Davide Mancinotti Videnskabelig assistent +4535326095 E-mail
Fernando Geu-Flores Lektor +4535332852 E-mail
Huayi Huang Ph.d.-stipendiat +4535333823 E-mail
Karen Michiko Frick Postdoc   E-mail
Katharina Vollheyde Postdoc +4535324699 E-mail
Xinxing Xia Ph.d.-studerende +4535334768 E-mail

Research Group Leader

Fernando Geu-FloresFernando Geu-Flores
Associate Professor
feg@plen.ku.dk
+45 35 33 28 52