The Chair of Technical Biology deals in research and teaching with issues from the three major biotechnological subfields of biological material production, biocatalysis and bioproduct processing. The Sub-Institute II - Technical Biology of the BLT belongs to the Faculty of Chemical Engineering and Process Engineering and started its work in August 2003. The research activities of about 20 staff members focus on biotechnological material production and biocatalysis with regard to the development of biotechnology in a future bioeconomy. In all projects, there is close cooperation with other institutes and departments at KIT, Helmholtz facilities and institutes of the Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft.

Research Overview

The Chair of Technical Biology deals in research and teaching with questions from the three major biotechnological sub-areas of biological substance production, biocatalysis and bioproduct processing.
Übersicht Forschung BMBF,BMEL
Bioeconomy Strategy

In the context of a sustainable bioeconomy and the associated raw material shift from fossil to renewable raw materials and residues , the aim at BLT-TeBi is to develop biotechnological processes for the biobased production of basic and fine chemicals.

Current research focuses on the microbial utilization of synthesis gas for the production of acetic acid and ethanol as synthesis building blocks. Research continues on the microbial production of organic dicarboxylic acids as plastic building blocks and single cell oils for various applications. Topics of enzymatic mass conversion are the synthesis of glycolipid surfactants as detergents and cosmetics and the recovery of special α- and β-amino acids as precursors for pharmaceuticals.

Characterization of customized biosurfactants -Microbial, enzymatic & chemical synthesis- Prof. Dr. Christoph Syldatk:

Glycolipids are environmentally friendly surfactants with a wide range of applications in cosmetics, detergents and cleaning agents, as well as in food. With the help of enzymes from the natural fat and sugar metabolism of plants and microorganisms, tailor-made biosurfactants with completely new properties can be produced. In order to realize economic applicability, comparative studies with established petroleum-based surfactants are carried out in addition to the development and optimization of enzymatic and microbial processes.

Enzymatische Syntheserouten
Fermentation gasförmiger Substrate
"Fermentation of gaseous substrates" - AkOR Dr. Anke Neumann.

Gaseous substrates are available either as waste stream of the steel industry or as synthesis gas (CO,CO2, H2) from the bioliq® plant at KIT. As the sole source of carbon and energy, they enable the production of organic acids and alcohols by anaerobic gas fermentation. This represents a promising andCO2-neutral alternative to biorefinery concepts previously established on the basis of sugars. The focus of the research is on the selection, characterization and optimization of suitable microorganisms or mixed cultures and the required process control.

Microbial production of dicarboxylic acids and single-cell oils from renewable raw and residual materials - Dr. Ing. Katrin Ochsenreither

Dicarboxylic acids and single-cell oils produced microbially at low cost from renewable raw materials and residues can be used in a variety of ways as starting compounds for the synthesis of energy sources, surfactants, biolubricants and bioplastics. The object of this work is to investigate the suitability of various lignocellulosic and low-temperature carbonization fractions as substrates, as well as the upstream and downstream processing of the products. Of great interest is the use of the so far hardly investigated group of anaerobic fungi from ruminants.

Pyrolyseöl - Fermentation
From Soil to Pharmacy
"Chemoenzymatic reaction cascades to unusual amino acids" - AkR PD Dr. Jens Rudat and DFG junior research group Dr.-Ing. Ulrike Engel.

40% of our drugs and 20% of agrochemicals contain chiral amines and amino acids (AS) as a functional group. A particular challenge for their production is the synthesis of AS whose structure differs from that of proteinogenic AS, e.g. d-AS, β-AS or AS with an unusual side chain.

To this end, the Biocatalysis WG is pursuing interdisciplinary approaches from organic chemistry, microbiology, biochemistry, bioinformatics and (bio)process engineering in order to obtain these substances from the lignin fraction of plant waste in the long term with the aid of enzymes.

Metabolic versatility of Parageobacillus thermoglucosidasius for alternative energy resources (MPaeR)

The ability to grow on both organic and gaseous substrates makes the thermophilic, facultatively anaerobic bacterium Parageobacillus thermoglucosidasius a highly interesting chassis for the construction of microbial cell factories. Elucidation of the molecular interactions underlying this metabolic versatility will facilitate the development of rational and selective strategies for use in environmentally friendly bioprocessing. Of particular interest here is the exploration of the regulatory basis of carbon monoxide (CO) oxidation and carbon assimilation.

MPaeR BLT2_Dr. Jens Rudat
Enzymantische Synthese BLT2_Prof. Dr. Christoph Syldatk
Enzymatic synthesis of non-canonical amino acids

Non-canonical amino acids are not encoded by the standard genetic code. Prominent examples are the Parkinson's drug l-DOPA, d-phenylglycine derivatives as side chains of ampicillin and amoxicillin (most prescribed antibiotics in children), and β-phenylalanine in the most widely used chemotherapeutic drugs Taxol and Taxotere (against breast and prostate cancer, among others).

Economical access to these molecules and thus to essential drugs is made possible by new microorganisms and enzymes, their bioinformatic modeling and optimization, and by innovative production processes using sustainable substrates.