From methanol to medicine – Sustainable microbial production of polyketide antibiotics
Can the pink-pigmented microbe Methylobacterium extorquens be genetically engineered to convert the sustainable raw material methanol into antibiotics?
Polyketide antibiotics, such as erythromycin or tetracycline, are vital in treating infectious diseases. However, their current production by Streptomyces bacteria is often complex, expensive and unsustainable. Therefore, alternative production methods are urgently needed. In this project, an innovative concept for the sustainable microbial production of polyketide antibiotics from the inexpensive compound methanol will be realized by a metabolic engineering approach. Antibiotic-producing enzymes from Streptomyces will be transferred to Methylobacterium extorquens, a bacterium growing efficiently on methanol. Since these enzymes are complex molecular machines, their transfer into another microorganism is highly challenging. Successful antibiotic production from methanol will represent a ground-breaking achievement and opens up a new research field.