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Synthetic Biosystems for the Production of High-Value Plant Metabolites

  • Project Leaders: Peter Facchini, Vincent Martin, Joerg Bohlmann
  • Institutions: University of Calgary
  • Budget: $440758
  • Program/Competition: Large Scale Applied Research Programs
  • Genome Centre(s): Genome Canada
  • Status: Closed

The PhytoMetaSyn Project used massively parallel DNA sequencing to investigate the processes and biosynthetic pathways by which selected plant species produced high-value plant metabolites with the intent of reconstituting these processes in yeast.
The Project was successful in creating gene libraries for 74 plant species producing bioactive natural products. Proof-of-concept was successfully demonstrated for a process engineering technology for the deployment of the identified genes and enzymes in yeast strains for the production of several industrially relevant plant-derived prototype compounds including: nootkatone; abietic acid; sanguinarine; morphine/codeine; cis-abienol; and bisabolol. The Project developed new intellectual property resulting in 10 invention disclosures (2 UBC), 10 provisional patents, 6 files patents (4 UBC), and 1 licensing agreement (UBC with Allylix). Additionally, 2 spinoff companies were created: Epimeron Inc (focus on the morphinan pathway) and Anandia Laboratories Inc (Vancouver-based biotech focusing on cannabinoid-based medicines).