Molecules from Nature Institute Strategic Programme (ISP)
The BBSRC funded Molecules from Nature ISP will investigate the vast diversity of chemicals produced by plants and microbes.
Researchers will study the importance of plant and microbial chemicals in areas of biology including the interactions between soil organisms and plants, the interaction between diet and health, and the medicinal properties of plants.
The research will underpin development of new products and processes of economic and societal benefit, such as new therapeutics and antibiotics, sustainable ways to improve crop yields, and foods with health benefits.
Plants as factories
Tiny virus-like particles produced in tobacco plants by infiltrating leaves with genes encoding the proteins that make up the particles. This technology holds great promise for developing safe new vaccines for dangerous viral diseases
Strictosidine from periwinkle
Flowers of Catharanthus roseus, the Madagascar periwinkle, which produces the anti-cancer drug vinblastine
Tomato fruits and fruit extracts from plants engineered to produce health-promoting pigments normally found in other types of fruits and vegetables
Products made by plants and bacteria are essential for humankind, and integral to our daily lives.
These products provide our food and nutrients essential for our well-being, major drugs, therapeutics and antibiotics, and raw materials for the manufacture of a host of products including agrichemicals, personal care products, paints, plastics, lubricants, and textiles.
In addition to these essential and well known products, it is clear from research on plant and microbial genes that these organisms are able to make a vast range of as-yet undiscovered products. This hidden potential offers a great opportunity to find new products of value to humankind.
Research in the Molecules from Nature ISP will unlock this hidden potential. At a fundamental level we will discover the evolutionary origins and biological function of the vast product diversity present in plants and microbes, and reveal how important classes of products are synthesised by these organisms. We will use this information to design and engineer new molecules and producing organisms to drive advances in health, medicine and sustainable manufacturing and agricultural practices. We will thus provide new resources for the bioeconomy, new means of addressing societal needs including malnutrition and under-nutrition, and rapid, effective responses to threats from emerging diseases.