Plants form an amazing diversity of natural products. The majority of the biologically active compounds originate from secondary metabolism. Elucidation of biosynthetic pathways and their regulation provides the basis for metabolic engineering and synthetic biology approaches. Goals are to modify medicinal plants and derived cell cultures for improved patterns of therapeutically valuable compounds and to establish plant biosynthetic pathways in engineered microorganisms.
Our work focuses on the biosynthesis of polyketide derivatives. The hyperforin and the benzophenone metabolism provide a number of polyprenylated polycyclic compounds, which are pharmacologically active and difficult to synthesize. Another class of polyketides, biphenyl derivatives, are inducible defence compounds (phytoalexins) of apple and pear. Thus, all these polyketide derivatives are interesting compounds for biotechnological research.
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