Synthetic biology for production of health-promoting compounds in microbial cell factories at Københavns Universitet

Project description
Intake of cruciferous vegetables (e.g. broccoli and cabbages) characteristic with their content of glucosinolates, is associated with numerous health benefits including reduced risk of developing cancer. Substantial attention has been given to the glucosinolate glucoraphanin that is highly enriched in broccoli and associated with its health-promoting properties. However, we need to eat ~1 kg of broccoli pr. week to get the health benefits of broccoli. This has primed a desire to engineer microbial production of glucosinolates as dietary supplements.

Your task (can be adjusted dependent on interest)
Our goal is to engineer the health-promoting, bioactive glucosinolates from cruciferous vegetables into microbial cell factories. We are building a platform for efficient production by application of advanced synthetic biology. We currently focus on the following projects:

1) Establishment of Crispr-based genome integration
2) Boosting the levels of precursors and co-factors
3) ‘Omics-based strain optimization to increase flux through the pathway
4) Transport engineering to ensure efficient flux through the pathway and efficient export to increase yield, prevent feedback inhibition and reduce toxicity

Who we are: Research group of Barbara Ann Halkier in the DynaMo Center of Excellence ( We provide a stimulating, international research environment with lots of opportunities to advance your skills. Our research lab has a strong international research profile with a recent record of high impact publications.

Expectations: We expect you to be enthusiastic, dedicated and eager to learn and advance your research skills as well as oral and written presentation skills.

Methods used: Crispr-based genome integration of enzymes/transporters, construction of multigene pathways, engineering in multiple host organisms (yeast, E. coli), analysis of LC-MS data, bioinformatics on ‘omics data, generation and mining of ‘omics data. The project provides a solid foundation for future work in both research labs and biotech industry by advancing skills in bioengineering of microorganisms.

Keywords: synthetic biology, biotechnology, bioactive natural plant products, ‘omics tools, microbial cell factories, pathway and transport engineering,

Main supervisor: Head of Center, Professor Barbara Ann Halkier, DynaMo Center of Excellence, PLEN, Frederiksberg. Email:

Co-supervisor: PhD student Michal Poborsky (

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