Environmental enrichment culture as a route to the biosynthesis of platform chemicals for the plastics industry

Lead Research Organisation: University of Strathclyde
Department Name: Inst of Pharmacy and Biomedical Sci


The global acrylic acid market is estimated to be $6-8 billion USD per annum. The majority of the precursor materials for the acrylic plastic industry currently come from unsustainable fossil fuels. Significant attention is being aimed at producing these materials from sustainable feedstocks by exploiting the biosynthetic potential of microorganisms. It is important to note that many applications of acrylic plastics cannot be substituted with bioplastics. An example of this is the use of acrylic in aircraft windows where safety, strength and durability are paramount. Lucite International Ltd. currently produce approximately one third of the 4 million tonnes of methacrylate ester (ME) that is used globally each year. Lucite have established a biosynthetic pathway to produce methacrylate ester in microorganisms so that the cost and sustainability of acrylic production can be improved. This synthetic biology approach has led to the successful production of ME, but more ME tolerant organisms are required to improve the process. The predominant reason for this is that ME is relatively toxic to most commonly used biotechnology organisms. Biotechnology chassis organisms are usually selected based upon scientific familiarity, not by biological possibility. For this reason, it is clear that there is an industrial need for better chassis organisms for ME production and we propose to use an enrichment culture approach to identify these organisms and their specific traits for the sustainable bioproduction of methacrylate ester for the plastics industry. The aims of this studentship are to identify genetic talent in the environment that will contribute to pathway improvement, host strain tolerance and feedstock preference.


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Studentship Projects

Project Reference Relationship Related To Start End Student Name
BB/V509243/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024
2510931 Studentship BB/V509243/1 01/10/2020 30/09/2024