Project Summary

Isoprenoids are a very large class of natural products. Their chemical and structural diversity lends them to a wide variety of industrial applications (e.g. as pharmaceuticals, fuels, rubbers, nutraceuticals, agricultural chemicals, flavours, fragrances, colorants, etc.). We are interested in several industrially-useful isoprenoids. Examples include isoprene, a C5 hydrocarbon that can be polymerised to make synthetic rubber, and various C10 (monoterpene) and C15 (sesquiterpene) hydrocarbons that can be used to produce bio-jet fuel/bio-diesel (and in other applications). Production of these compounds is non-trivial, since they are not naturally made by E. coli and yeast, and some, notably the monoterpenes, are highly toxic.

Isoprenoids are produced by two distinct metabolic pathways: the mevalonate (MVA) pathway present in all higher organisms as well as yeast and the methylerythritol phosphate (MEP) pathway found in many microbes and plastids. We are using synthetic biology engineering approaches to improve carbon flux through both of these pathways for production of industrially-useful isoprenoids. The aim of this program is to increase conversion of bioprocess feedstocks (such as sucrose) into desired end products by whole cell biocatalysts. We have reconstructed synthetic pathways with improved flux in both yeast and E. coli. We are also examining approaches to minimise carbon loss to competing pathways, redirect carbon into the pathways, and scavenge carbon lost to nonspecific reactions. 


Research Group

Vickers Group


Systems Biology, Systems Biotechnology, Energy, Materials, Manufacturing, Sustainability, Sucrose, Renewable, Isoprenoids, Synthetic biology, Metabolic engineering




Project members

Lead Investigator

Researchers Involved