About Harnessing Biosynthesis for Sustainable Food and Health (HBio)

Human society is dependent upon products made by plants and bacteria. Two major, interwoven challenges of national and global importance are the supply of sufficient, nutritious, and sustainably produced food, and the maintenance and extension of healthy lifespans.

Our capacity to discover, identify, edit and produce chemicals has been revolutionised by recent large-scale sequencing of plant and microbial genomes. These genomes reveal that plants and bacteria can make many products that have not yet been identified and tested.

We will exploit plant and bacterial genomic information to discover novel natural products likely to contribute to new generations of medicines, antibiotics and other valuable natural chemicals such as environmentally-friendly pesticides. We will use state-of-the-art technologies to determine the mechanisms of action of these novel molecules.

By precisely editing molecular and macromolecular structures our research will optimise both the properties and functionality of molecules, enabling improvements to the nutritional quality of food, development of more sustainable agricultural practices and provision of new therapeutics and antibiotics to support a healthy human lifespan.

Many important chemicals, including medicines, are scarce in nature and both difficult and expensive to extract. We have invented technology to produce larger amounts of these chemicals by synthesising them within plants. We will refine this technology help overcome supply problems, enabling faster synthesis of valuable products in larger volumes.