From Plant to Plastic: Metabolic engineering of plant monoterpenes for biobased commodity chemicals

Promotie

From Plant to Plastic: Metabolic engineering of plant monoterpenes for biobased commodity chemicals

Promovendus EJ (Esmer) Jongedijk MSc
Copromotor dr. MJ (Jules) Beekwilder
dr.ir. AR (Sander) van der Krol
Organisatie Wageningen University, Laboratory of Plant Physiology
Datum

vr 13 april 2018 13:30 tot 15:00

Locatie Auditorium, building number 362
Generaal Foulkesweg 1
362
6703 BG Wageningen
0317-483592

External promotor: prof. dr HJ Bouwmeester

Summary

Each year millions of tons of plastic, e.g. polyethylene terephthalate (PET), are produced from non-sustainable petrochemical sources (oil). An alternative source of biomaterials are plant monoterpenes. In this research monoterpenes were identified in the plant species Salvia dorisiana that are suitable for bioplastics. This plant produces monoterpenes in small glands (trichomes) on the leaf surface. However the amounts are by far not enough to meet human material demands. Therefore it was investigated how the plant exactly produces these compounds, and with this knowledge a production system was set-up in micro-organisms by metabolic engineering. Also a short transformation route was designed to convert the monoterpenes in terephthalic acid, the building block of PET plastic. All in all, this research is an important first step to use specific molecules from plants as an alternative source for biomaterials. Potentially, this will decrease dependence on fossil oil, and improve sustainability of production processes.