Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


From the scent of roses to nylon and plastics


Enzyme for plastics production from renewable raw materials

Beguiling scents, sober facts: scents emanating from plants are almost always monoterpenes and monoterpene alcohols, the essential oils of plants are natural hydrocarbon compounds. For instant, geraniol is the tempting fragrant alcohol of roses.

Crystals of linalool dehydratase/isomerase in a drop of protein solution

Sina Weidenweber, Max Planck-Institute of Biophysics, Frankfurt

Structure of linalool dehydratase/isomerase. Five identical proteins form a five-membered rosette. In black, the substrates bound on the enzyme are shown.

Sina Weidenweber and Ulrich Ermler, Max Planck-Institute of Biophysics, Frankfurt

Researchers of the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen have published in 2010 the discovery of an enzyme, which converts the rose-scented geraniol in the coriander-scented coriandrol ((S) -linalool) and further in the hop-scented myrcene.

However, this enzyme, the linalool dehydratase/isomerase is also capable of forning butadiene from natural raw materials, such as fermentation products. Butadiene is a key compound in the manufacturing process of plastics. Now, the researchers were able to elucidate the exact three-dimensional structure of the enzyme and the binding sites of geraniol and myrcene on the enzyme, an important milestone on the way from the petrochemical industry towards the energy-economic use of natural resources.

Butadiene and isoprene: important intermediates in plastics production

Butadiene and isoprene are intermediates for nylon production, high-melting plastics (ABS polymers) and rubber products. So far butadiene is produced elaborately by cracking of petroleum. Therefore, the chemical industry has a great interest in energy-economic alternatives to butadiene synthesis.
Over 10 million tons of butadiene and isoprene are annually produced under considerable energy consumption from fossil fuels, a market of over 15 billion euros.

A few years ago, high oil prices and increasing demand triggered an intensive search for alternative production methods. The switch to renewable raw materials and an energy-poor production method requires biocatalysts, and the catalytic properties of linalool dehydratase/isomerase are ideal for this task. Based on the discovery of the enzyme by Bremer researchers in 2010, a considerable number of patent applications and patents have been published that describe the use of this enzyme in the production of butadiene and isoprene.

Discovery of the substrate binding on the enzyme

To make effective use of the enzyme in the industry, you have to know the internal architecture and how and where the actual reaction takes place. Now Sina Weiden Weber and Ulrich Ermler from the Max Planck-Institute of Biophysics in Frankfurt and Robert Marmulla and Jens Harder from the Max Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology in Bremen succeeded in the elucidation of the molecular structure of the enzyme. The enzyme is composed of five identical subunits and has a unique binding site for monoterpene alcohols.

"In recent years it was very gratifying to see the rapid use of our results from basic research in applied industrial research. The linalool dehydratase/isomerase structure, the precise knowledge of geraniol and myrcene-binding sites and the insight into the catalytic mechanisms will now enable industrial companies to optimize this actually monoterpenes degrading enzyme for the biotechnological production of butadiene and isoprene. "says Jens Harder.

Original publication:
Weidenweber, Sina; Marmulla, Robert; Ermler, Ulrich; Harder, Jens
X-ray structure of linalool dehydratase/isomerase from Castellaniella defragrans reveals enzymatic alkene synthesis.
FEBS Letters 2016, doi 10.1002/1873-3468.12165

Prof. Dr. Jens Harder
Max Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology, Bremen
Telefon: 0421 2028 750

PD Dr. Ulrich Ermler
Max Planck-Institute of Biophysics, Frankfurt
Telephon: 069 6303 1054

or the press office:
Max Planck-Institute for Marine Microbiology:
Dr. Manfred Schlösser
Telefon: 0421 2028 - 704
Fax: 0421 2028 - 790
Dr. Fanni Aspetsberger
Telefon: 0421 2028 - 947

Dr. Manfred Schloesser | Max-Planck-Institut für marine Mikrobiologie
Further information:

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht Signaling Pathways to the Nucleus
19.03.2018 | Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg im Breisgau

nachricht In monogamous species, a compatible partner is more important than an ornamented one
19.03.2018 | Max-Planck-Institut für Ornithologie

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Locomotion control with photopigments

Researchers from Göttingen University discover additional function of opsins

Animal photoreceptors capture light with photopigments. Researchers from the University of Göttingen have now discovered that these photopigments fulfill an...

Im Focus: Surveying the Arctic: Tracking down carbon particles

Researchers embark on aerial campaign over Northeast Greenland

On 15 March, the AWI research aeroplane Polar 5 will depart for Greenland. Concentrating on the furthest northeast region of the island, an international team...

Im Focus: Unique Insights into the Antarctic Ice Shelf System

Data collected on ocean-ice interactions in the little-researched regions of the far south

The world’s second-largest ice shelf was the destination for a Polarstern expedition that ended in Punta Arenas, Chile on 14th March 2018. Oceanographers from...

Im Focus: ILA 2018: Laser alternative to hexavalent chromium coating

At the 2018 ILA Berlin Air Show from April 25–29, the Fraunhofer Institute for Laser Technology ILT is showcasing extreme high-speed Laser Material Deposition (EHLA): A video documents how for metal components that are highly loaded, EHLA has already proved itself as an alternative to hard chrome plating, which is now allowed only under special conditions.

When the EU restricted the use of hexavalent chromium compounds to special applications requiring authorization, the move prompted a rethink in the surface...

Im Focus: Radar for navigation support from autonomous flying drones

At the ILA Berlin, hall 4, booth 202, Fraunhofer FHR will present two radar sensors for navigation support of drones. The sensors are valuable components in the implementation of autonomous flying drones: they function as obstacle detectors to prevent collisions. Radar sensors also operate reliably in restricted visibility, e.g. in foggy or dusty conditions. Due to their ability to measure distances with high precision, the radar sensors can also be used as altimeters when other sources of information such as barometers or GPS are not available or cannot operate optimally.

Drones play an increasingly important role in the area of logistics and services. Well-known logistic companies place great hope in these compact, aerial...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Industry & Economy
Event News

Ultrafast Wireless and Chip Design at the DATE Conference in Dresden

16.03.2018 | Event News

International Tinnitus Conference of the Tinnitus Research Initiative in Regensburg

13.03.2018 | Event News

International Virtual Reality Conference “IEEE VR 2018” comes to Reutlingen, Germany

08.03.2018 | Event News

Latest News

Development and Fast Analysis of 3D Printed HF Components

19.03.2018 | Trade Fair News

In monogamous species, a compatible partner is more important than an ornamented one

19.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Signaling Pathways to the Nucleus

19.03.2018 | Life Sciences

Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>