Terpenes are hydrocarbons with a broad variety of functions such as medicines, flavour enhancers, fragrances and biofuel, making them interesting for the food, cosmetic and pharmaceutical industry. 

Terpenes are a large group of secondary metabolites with more than different 55,000  compounds identified. Terpenes are hydrocarbons built up from isoprene subunits and found in many plant oils, also known as essential oils. Plants produce terpenes as a defence and deterrence mechanism or to attract pollinators and seed dispersers with the pleasant scents of the terpenes. These strong scents are caused by the volatility of the terpenes which is why we like to use several of them as aromatic agents in cosmetics and food products. Other terpenes find their use as agricultural products, nutraceuticals and even pharmaceuticals.

The use of terpenes as flavour and fragrance enhancers has grown over the past two decades as there has been an increasing demand for ‘natural’ ingredients. There are three ways of producing these terpenes: plant extraction, chemical synthesis and fermentation. Chemical synthetic production is very difficult, if not impossible due to the molecules’ complexity. Instead, most terpenes are purified from plants which in turn need to be sown, cultivated, harvested and processed for purification. This botanical purification is subject to a whole range of uncertainties including the weather conditions, crop yield, soil quality, and diseases, all rendering botanical purification highly unpredictable and costly. Microbial production of terpenes can be a cost effective and  a more sustainable substitute to the other two methods. 

At EV Biotech, we are developing a platform microorganism for the production of a building block of all terpenes. This microorganism can easily be tuned via a “plug-and-play” method to produce a wide variety of terpenes. We are currently working on our in-house strain to produce geraniol, the primary component of rose oil. We have proof-of-concepts for limonene and pinene and welcome requests for a feasibility study of any terpene of your interest.

Are you interested in producing a specific terpenes with us, or want more information on how this product might be suited for your company? Contact us!

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