Skip to main content

Enantioselective biotechnological resolution of racemic epoxydes in the production of optically pure epoxydes


The objective of the project is to gain an understanding of the fundamentals of enantioselective epoxide degradation by microorganisms.
A stereoselective enzyme has been discovered in a Xanthobacter species which resolves cheap racemic epoxide mixtures to very valuable optically pure epoxides to be used in subsequent industrial chemical synthesis of optically pure bioactive compounds. The objective of the present work is to study epoxide degrading enzymes with an emphasis on an enzyme of Xanthobacter Py2. The goal is to arrive at an understanding on basis of which a decision can be made on industrial application of the method.

Current objectives include:
optimization studies of Xanthobacter Py2 and;
screening for tother epoxide-degrading organisms;
purification and study of the epoxide-degrading enzyme from Xanthobacter Py2;
development of analytical techniques, immobilization and aqueous phase work;
solvent screening.

Initial results obtained were the demonstration of epoxide degrading activity in cell extracts and the observation that activity of cells immobilized in situ was 3 times as high as of cells in suspension.
Recently, a participant of the current project has discovered a stereoselective enzyme in a Xanthobacter species. Such novel enzymes resolve cheap racemic epoxide mixtures to very valuable optically pure epoxides to be used in subsequent industrial chemical syntheses of optically pure bioactive compounds.

The three collaborating university participants will study enantioselective epoxide degradation at three distinct levels:

the Division of Industrial Microbiology, Agricultural University Wageningen, at the whole cell level, will study growth optimization and optimization of enzyme expression in Xanthobacter, and will also isolate new bacteria with enantioselective epoxide degrading activities;
the Centre for Biotechnology, Imperial college, London will study, at the enzyme level, the mechanism and enzymology of epoxide breakdown;
the Instituto Superior Tecnico, Lisbon, at the level of immobilized cells, will study process productivity and optimization, mainly in organic solvents;
the industrial participant Andeno BV supplies model racemic epoxides.


Landbouwuniversiteit Wageningen
6700 EV Wageningen

Participants (3)

Andeno BV
5928 NX Venlo
1,Avenida Rovisco Pais 1
1049-001 Lisboa
Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine
United Kingdom
Exhibition Road
SW7 2BX London