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A new biological route for large scale manufacture of methacrylic acid from renewable feedstocks.

  • Full or part time
    Prof C French
    Dr S Wallace
  • Application Deadline
    Friday, May 03, 2019
  • Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)
    Funded PhD Project (European/UK Students Only)

Project Description

Methacrylic acid (MA) is an important industrial chemical used in the manufacture of transparent polymers such as poly(methyl methacrylate) (PMMA), and is manufactured in large amounts (approximately 3 million tonnes per year). Various approaches have been tested for manufacture of MA and MA esters (MAE) from renewable sources using microorganisms. In this project, together with our industrial partners, we aim to engineer a metabolic pathway for the production of MAE in the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and to further engineer the host strain to improve tolerance and secretion of this compound and reduce formation of undesirable by-products. We will also test different processes using engineered strains to optimize product formation, including elements such as integration of non-biological catalysts and use of surfactants for product extraction. Ultimately we hope to achieve a clean, efficient and cost effective process for production of MAE, which can be scaled up for commercial use. This project should provide excellent training in synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, and industrial process design, working closely with industrial partners to achieve our goal.

C. French laboratory:
S. Wallace laboratory:
S. Rosser laboratory:
SynthSys (Centre for Systems and Synthetic Biology):
Lucite International:
Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre:

Funding Notes

This studentship will commence 1 October 2019.It is a 4 year fully funded BBSRC IBioIC studentship. This opportunity is only open to UK nationals (or EU students who have been resident in the UK for 3+ years immediately prior to the programme start date) due to restrictions imposed by the funding body.

Application Deadline: 3 May 2019
The “Visit Website” button on this page will take you to our Online Application checklist tool. This will provide a list of steps required in the application process.


• Darabi Mahboub, M., Dubois, J.-L., Cavani, F., Rostamizadeh, M., & Patience, G. (2018). Catalysis for the synthesis of methacrylic acid and methyl methacrylate. Chemical Society Reviews, 47(20), 7703-7738. doi 10.1039/c8cs00117k (review on MAE production)
• Park, S.-H., and Han, J.-S. Development of an efficient cytosolic isobutanol production pathway in Saccharomyces cerevisiae by optimizing copy numbers and expression of the pathway genes based on the toxic effect of α-acetolactate. Scientific Reports 9, 3396. Doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-40631-5 (development of a similar process)
• Patent regarding the current technology:

Related Subjects

How good is research at University of Edinburgh in Biological Sciences?

FTE Category A staff submitted: 109.70

Research output data provided by the Research Excellence Framework (REF)

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