Both are funded under the "Smart Ideas" category, which supports research into novel, promising ideas that can create benefit for
"It is exciting to see this significant support for innovative
There is conflict between the use of insecticides to protect our crops and the damage these insecticides cause to beneficial insects such as bees. One way to solve this problem is the development of insect-killing genetically modified plants, but here in
Here we propose to begin the process of developing the next generation of insecticides, ones that are effective against pests, but have no effect on bees. Our previous research has identified a novel target in the genomes of pest insects that is missing from bees. Finding this target gives us hope that developing chemicals that interfere with these novel targets will produce an effective insecticide against pests, which has no impact on bees. In this project we will develop the tools and infrastructure to allow us to develop these effective, yet bee friendly, insecticides.
Manufacturing molecules through enzyme engineering
This proposal seeks to develop new bio-manufacturing processes for two chemicals (butanone and 2-butanol) that are currently produced from petroleum. Butanone is a key ingredient in paints, varnishes and adhesives, while 2-butanol is converted into synthetic rubbers (particularly car tyres). The worldwide market for these chemicals is in the millions of tonnes, and billions of dollars, per year. However the global chemical industry is seeking new ways to manufacture them, which are not reliant on the fickle (and unsustainable) petroleum market.
In this proposal, we will engineer new enzymes that convert 2,3-butanediol into butanone and 2-butanol. The required functions will be engineered by taking existing enzymes with related activities, and accelerating the evolution of these single molecules. The engineered enzymes will be tested in a laboratory microbe. If successful, the next phase of the research will be to incorporate the enzymes into the LanzaTech microbe and to optimise the new strains for commercial butanone and 2-production.
Our enzyme engineering technologies will also be of considerable interest to end users in the forestry and dairy sectors. These sectors offer alternative feedstocks for fermentation processes, such as woody biomass and dairy whey. This research has the potential to establish NZ as a centre of the global green chemical market, which is projected to grow from
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