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The ShikiFactory100 project aims to produce a universe of more than 100 high value compounds from the shikimate pathway, a hub in cell metabolism. This will be achieved through the development of optimised shikimate chassis (based in 3 sub-hubs: Phe, Trp and Tyr), and the implementation of novel biosynthetic routes for the production of existing and newly designed compounds.

 

 

 

 

The Project

The chemical synthesis of natural molecules is often complex. Undesirable by-products are frequently generated and, in many cases, reaction mechanisms are unclear, rendering a host of natural compounds virtually unattainable by synthetic means. Plants, on the other hand, can naturally produce a wealth of valuable compounds but at typically low concentrations, causing extraction to be costly and resulting in expensive products when placed on the market. Furthermore, the extraction of functional compounds from biomass often depends on feedstock availability, which can lead to price fluctuations and environmental impacts associated with land-use change. In contrast, natural molecules may instead be generated by microbial production, as is already the case for many industrial compounds, where microbial hosts are able to naturally manufacture desired products, acting as "cell factories" with fully characterized bio-synthetic pathways.

The ShikiFactory100 project aims to exploit the microbial production of more than 100 high value compounds derived from the shikimate pathway, a hub in cell metabolism. This will be achieved through the development of optimized shikimate chassis (based in 3 sub-hubs: Phe, Trp and Tyr), and the characterization and implementation of novel bio-synthetic routes for the production of existing and newly designed compounds.

The shikimate pathway links the metabolism of carbohydrates to the biosynthesis of aromatic compounds. In a sequence of steps, intermediate compounds are converted by hosts into aromatic amino acids (AAAs) and many other aromatic secondary metabolites, which act as branch points for other metabolic pathways. The shikimate pathway is commercially very significant, with many compounds derived from this pathway associated with multi-million dollar global markets. 

This project will proceed via 3 main focus vectors, which will be innovatively and synergistically integrated:

  1. Discovery: collection of natural and non-natural reactions and compounds, as well as the discovery and ranking of novel pathways for the production of the target compounds.

  2. Design & Implementation: in silico and in vivo design, rapid prototyping for pathways selected in vector 1, and optimization efforts toward chassis and advancing production strains.

  3. Validation: application and initial upscaling for a subset of select compounds, in addition to an appraisal of compound sustainability.

 

 

In order for the ShikiFactory100 project to fulfill its ambitious vision, a consortium made up of some of Europe's most relevant players in the fields of synthetic biology and biotechnology has been assembled. Furthermore, to ensure the smooth running of this project for the duration, the following management team has also been established:

To learn more about the organisations within our consortium, click on the partner profiles below. 

Partners

SilicoLife
SilicoLife

Braga, Portugal

SilicoLife
SilicoLife designs optimised microorganisms and novel pathways for industrial biotech applications.
EPFL
EPFL

Vaud, Switzerland

EPFL
EPFL was founded in 1969 and has established itself amongst the world’s best research and teaching institutions.
DTU
DTU

Copenhagen, Denmark

DTU
Technical University of Denmark (DTU) is recognised internationally in the areas of technology and natural sciences.
EMBL
EMBL

Heidelberg, Germany

EMBL
EMBL is Europe’s flagship laboratory for life sciences.
DSM
DSM

Delft, Netherlands

DSM
DSM is a global science-based company active in health, nutrition and materials.
University of Manchester
University of Manchester

Manchester, United Kingdom

University of Manchester
The University of Manchester is the largest single-site university in the UK, with research strengths across all scientific disciplines.
University of Minho
UMinho

Braga, Portugal

University of Minho
The University of Minho has expertise in the development of algorithms and computational tools for metabolic engineering.
Universidade NOVA de Lisboa
NOVA

Lisbon, Portugal

Universidade NOVA de Lisboa
Universidade NOVA de Lisboa is the youngest of Lisbon's state universities.
c-LEcta
c-LEcta

Leipzig, Germany

c-LEcta
c-LEcta specializes on the discovery, optimization and production of enzymes and engineered strains for the production of proteins and small molecules.
GalChimia
GalChimia

La Coruña, Spain

GalChimia
GalChimia is a service provider focused in the field of synthetic organic chemistry.
NNFCC
NNFCC

York, United Kingdom

NNFCC
NNFCC has over 17 years of experience in supporting the development of bio-based chemicals and products.
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