The structurally diverse tropane family of plant alkaloids have significant interest due to their biological activities. Many are used for medical applications such as the anaesthetic cocaine, calystegines (glycosidase inhibitors) and the synthetic drug benztropine for the treatment of Parkinsonism. The tropanes are biosynthesised from ornithine (or arginine) via a key N-methyl-pyrrolinium cation to the tropinone skeleton. The overall aim of this PhD project is to establish sustainable strategies to this important group of plant alkaloids by building synthetic pathways in bacteria, and further to expand the structural diversity of alkaloids that can be generated, via a chemo-synthetic biology approach.
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