About Plant Biotech Denmark – University of Copenhagen

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About TriForC

TriForC Concepts and Goals in Brief

The TriForC goal: To develop a pipeline for the discovery, sustainable production and commercial utilisation of known and novel high-value triterpenes with new or superior biological activities.

Mankind is continually screening low-molecular-weight compounds from a plethora of synthetic and natural sources in the search for molecules with novel or superior pharmaceutical or biological activities. Various bioprospecting, synthetic and biotech strategies to produce and diversify natural products are being exploited to provide new pipelines for bioactive molecules, e.g. for use as drugs or agrochemicals. Plants are a potential rich source of such molecules. However, because of their extreme diversity and complex chemistry, plant metabolism is still under-explored. Consequently, the full potential of plant-derived, low-molecular weight, bioactive compounds is still largely untapped.

The TriForC consortium will tackle this issue by establishing an integrative and innovative pipeline for the exploitation of plant triterpenes, one of the largest classes of plant bioactive compounds with an astonishing array of structural diversity and spectrum of biological activities. The consortium will deploy state-of-the-art technologies, developed by the partners, to achieve its aims.

The ambitious goal of TriForC can be divided into five scientific and technical objectives:

  • Identify new bioactive triterpenes for commercial development as exemplified for pharmaceuticals and agrochemicals.
  • Elucidate Structure-Activity-Relationships (SAR) of triterpenes through biological activity screenings.
  • Constitute a genetic toolbox that will allow mimicking ‘rainforest’-like structural triterpene diversity in the laboratory.
  • Develop a metabolic engineering platform for rational design of triterpenes for production in bioreactors.
  • Develop and upscale plant-based bioreactors for sustainable commercial production and biorefining of high-value triterpenes

The TriForC partners each bring to the consortium the necessary tools, resources, methods and production systems required to assemble the pipeline (Figure 1) and reach the scientific and technical objectives of our ambitious goal. Although the TriForC pipeline is sequential in structure, all individual TriForC activities will be operational from the beginning of the project, when the consortium partners deliver the initial parts of the pipeline components.

The TriForC pipeline for discovery and production of known and novel bioactive triterpenes for pharmaceutical and agrochemical development. From bioprospecting, bioactivity screens, gene discovery to sustainable and industrially exploitable supply by in planta production systems.

The TriForC pipeline will specifically address three of the major challenges for European bioindustry in the efficient exploitation of triterpenes with novel bioactivities:

  • Sustainable access to triterpene-plant source material, by establishing platforms that allow bioreactor-based production of triterpenes from plants that are endangered or difficult to cultivate.
  • Bottlenecks in triterpene metabolic engineering, by using cutting-edge gene mining concepts, creating a genetic toolbox and establishing a synthetic biology platform for the versatile production of designer triterpenes in organisms amenable to bioindustry-scale cultivation.
  • Optimal use of triterpene producing plant biomass, by consciously assessing different production sources and investigating downstream processing, separation and biorefinery possibilities.

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