Metabolic engineering of model bio factories by recruiting the genetic resources of plants and microorganisms for the heterologous production of hydroxytyrosol (HT) with direct application in plant protection

Funding Body: Ministry of education
Thales- NSRF

Hydroxytyrosol (HT) is a commercially important substance for pharmaceutical and agricultural industry. It is naturally derived either from olive trees or from byproducts of olive oil production. Such phenolic compounds exhibit difficulties to isolate in commercial quantities, either because of their low concentration or because of uneconomic isolation protocols or organic synthesis. The proposed project refers to the construction of an innovative biosynthetic scheme for the heterologous production of HT, through the setting up and comparison of three bioengineered systems, recruiting different host organism; Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Chlamydomonas reinhardtii and Arabidopsis thaliana. Using the genetic resources of plants and microorganisms will make feasible the reconstruction of biosynthetic pathways for the production of HT in all three organisms. Moreover, the metabolite flow rate in various steps of the proposed biosynthetic path will be investigated, as well as the optimization of the production in each host organism tested that will facilitate the maximal HT heterologous biosynthesis. The target will be to deliver to industry an advantage of obtaining HT in magnitude higher amounts than what is achieved up to now by its direct purification from plant tissues. Apart from the engineering of the proposed biofactories, the native hydroxytyrosol biosynthetic pathway will be investigated in olive tissues, mining the implicated genes that have not been identified yet. In addition, in the field of efficient purification of hydroxytyrosol, we are going to construct Molecular Imprinted Polymers that will enable us to specifically isolate HT either from plant tissues or from culture media. The final target will be to test the antimicrobial properties of the isolated HT in the field of Integrated Plant Protection by the creation of innovative formulations that can be safely used by humans and not polluting the environment.


Antonios Makris
Tel: +302311257541