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Bioproducts, Biofuels, and Perfumes: Conifer Terpene Synthases and their Potential for Metabolic Engineering

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Phytochemicals – Biosynthesis, Function and Application

Part of the book series: Recent Advances in Phytochemistry ((RAPT,volume 44))

Abstract

Conifer trees, including the economically and ecologically important pine (Pinus), spruce (Picea), and fir (Abies) species, produce large amounts of oleoresin terpenoids as a defense against herbivores and pathogens. Due to the structural diversity of oleoresin terpenoids and their various chemical and physical properties, which range from solid and viscous resins to liquids and volatiles, many of these compounds are useful to humans for the production of therapeutics, fragrances and flavors, biofuels, and fine chemicals. In this chapter, we feature three examples of conifer terpenoids, the diterpene resin acids (DRA), the sesquiterpene E-α-bisabolene, and the diterpenol cis-abienol, to highlight the versatile utility of conifer terpenoids as renewable bioproducts. We focus on recent research progress on conifer terpene synthases (TPS) which produce a wealth of terpene scaffolds in nature. Our recent advances in conifer transcriptome and genome sequencing as well as metabolite analyses have accelerated discovery and definitive functional annotation of terpenoid pathway genes. New insights into the evolutionary diversification of conifer TPS, their modular organization, and dynamic expression will be fundamental to advance metabolic engineering and synthetic biology platforms for high-value terpenoids.

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Acknowledgments

We thank Karen Reid and Angela Chiang for excellent laboratory and project management support, and Kate Wilczak for reading of the manuscript. We thank Genome Canada, Genome British Columbia, Genome Alberta, Genome Quebec, and the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada for financial support of the research in the laboratory of JB. Some of the work discussed in this paper resulted from the Tria Project (www.thetriaproject.ca), the Treenomix Project (www.treenomix.ca), the SMarTForests Project (www.smartforests.ca) and the PhytoMetaSyn Project (www.phytometasyn.ca). We wish to thank all the participants in these projects who made our work possible. JB is a UBC Distinguished University Scholar.

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Correspondence to Jörg Bohlmann .

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Zerbe, P., Bohlmann, J. (2014). Bioproducts, Biofuels, and Perfumes: Conifer Terpene Synthases and their Potential for Metabolic Engineering. In: Jetter, R. (eds) Phytochemicals – Biosynthesis, Function and Application. Recent Advances in Phytochemistry, vol 44. Springer, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-04045-5_5

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