Novel terpene based agrochemicals – smart agricultural applications of strigolactones

​The world population increases in the scale of hundreds of thousands per day and as a result, there is a constant growth in demand for agricultural crops used for food and fuels. In order to satisfy this demand without repeatedly disrupting existing ecosystems by expanding farmland, it is of great importance to increase the productivity of our crop plants. Strigolactones are a class of terpene plant hormones that can both complement and potentially reduce the use of fertilizers by encouraging symbiotic associations that assists with uptake of soil nutrients. Furthermore, strigolactones are involved in processes like control of shoot branching, regulation of drought and salt stress responses, and can be used to control parasitic plants, all beneficial to crop yields.

Strigolactones therefore have great potential as a novel multi-use agricultural biochemical.

With focus on the cytochromes P450 involved in the decoration of strigolactones, Marcos is working on generating new chemical diversity of strigolactones in search for a candidate with good bioactivity and increased stability in the environment. This will be approached by engineering a promiscuous and robust P450 biocatalyst for strigolactone production, which ultimately will contribute to overcoming the limited access to industrial strigolactones when engineering a microbial cell factory suitable for large-scale productionn

Marcos completed his Bachelor degree in Biology-Biotechnology at University of Copenhagen (Denmark) in 2014, and his Master degree in Biology-Biotechnology at University of Copenhagen in 2016, participating in projects at both the Danish Technical University (Denmark) and Ruprecht-Karls-Universität Heidelberg (Germany). In 2017, Marcos began his PhD at the Australian Institute of Bioengineering and Nanotechnology (AIBN)