Synthetic biology-guided engineering of Pseudomonas putida for biofluorination
SinFonia challenges the fact that Nature has hardly evolved biochemical reactions involving fluorine (F), the most abundant halogen on Earth. Organic compounds containing F (fluorochemicals) are, however, extremely relevant from an industrial point of view. Fluoropolymers are the main fluorochemicals in the market worldwide, and are exclusively synthesized using chemical methods. Moreover, current fluorination technologies usually involve corrosive and toxic reagents that have a negative impact on the environment. Designing sustainable bioprocesses based on alternative and safer fluorinating agents from renewable substrates is thus a long-sought-after, yet unfulfilled goal. SinFonia proposes to engineer the metabolically-versatile bacterium Pseudomonas putida to execute biofluorinations for generating novel fluoropolymers from renewable substrates. P. putida KT2440, a non-pathogenic soil bacterium, serves as an ideal microbial platform for F-dependent biochemical reactions due to its extraordinary resistance to harsh and stressful operating conditions. SinFonia will exploit natural selection to enhance bioproduction through a smart strain engineering approach in which bacterial growth will be coupled to biofluorination. Our target compounds are a whole family of fluorinated polyesters with enhanced physicochemical and material properties, with uses as self-cleaning surfaces, low-surface-energy coatings, bio-based lubricants, membranes for fuel cells, and anti-fouling materials. The versatile P. putida strains engineered during the project can be easily adapted to synthesize other added-value fluorochemicals. Unlike chemical processes, the source of F in our system will be NaF, an inexpensive and safe salt, and sugars as the main carbon source. In-depth analysis of all the environmental and economic benefits of the new fluorination technology, and interactive communication of social benefits associated with target products, are essential components of SinFonia.
SinFonia is a EC-H2020 (814418) funded research and innovation project.