The „Biocatalysis” platform delivers reaction engineering solutions on the molecular-, metabolic-, cell-, and process level to enable successful implementation of biocatalytic processes in the chemical and pharmaceutical industry. High selectivities and mild reaction conditions are central, at which emissions and energy use can be reduced.

The biotechnological production of valuable synthons, like enantiopure or selectively functionalized small molecules, can be achieved with isolated enzymes but also with whole cell biocatalysts. For the successful implementation of a whole cell biocatalyst is a deep process understanding essential. Non-natural substrates are consistently a great challenge. Often it is necessary to change the selectivity of the whole cell biocatalysts and adapt its activity without reducing the overall stability. Whole cell biocatalyst screening is important to overcome limitations and increase applicability of biocatalyst as catalyst in fermentative processes. Productivity and flux increases will allow optimization of cofactor dependent processes; the use of renewable carbon sources for cofactor recycling will contribute to sustainability like higher energy efficiency and implementation of heterolog cofactor dependent enzymes. The analysis, design, and synthesis of these whole cell biocatalysts with metabolic networks optimized for redox cofactor dependent biocatalysis will be the focus of “RedoxCell” the first project of the „Biocatalysis” platform. Overcoming the need for redox cofactor regenerating substrates will be an immediate outcome. Using these whole cell biocatalysts, an increase in yield and rate of redox cofactor dependent biocatalysis will deliver the necessary competitiveness. The „Biocatalysis” platform builds a training ground for students at the undergrad and postgrad level interested in industrial or white Biotechnology. The training is intensified by close collaboration of all partners, guaranteeing well balanced experiences of the students involved. The „Biocatalysis” platform combines the expertise from academia, research institutes and the industry in the areas of biology, chemistry, process engineering, and bioinformatics (Fig. 1).


Fig. 1: Organization of the platform Biocatalysis


At chair of Chemical Biotechnology of Prof. Andreas Schmid (Coordinator of the Biocatalysis platform) in the department of Biochemical and Chemical Engineering of the TU Dortmund University, redox metabolism and its interaction with redox biotransformation is studied. The metabolic network structure-function relationship research is investigated by PD Dr. Lars M. Blank (Systems Biotechnology Group) and colleagues. The characterization of the whole-cell biocatalysts under industrially relevant conditions is the topic of researchers of the Applied Biocatalysis Group headed by Dr. Bruno Bühler.

In the Institute of Bio- and Geosciences (IBG-1: Biotechnology), Systemic Microbiology (Prof. Dr. Michael Bott) of the Forschungszentrum Jülich, redox cofactor regeneration via the pentose phosphate pathway is studied; supervised by Dr. Stephanie Bringer-Meyer (Microbial Physiology Group). Scientists of the IBG-1, Systems Biology (Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Wiechert), investigate enzymatic redox cofactor regeneration systems for the synthesis of chiral molecules. The research is headed by Prof. Martina Pohl (Biocatalysis and Biosensors Group).

Networking with partner platforms and the CLIB-Graduate Cluster

Biocatalysis and its partner platforms ExpressO, PolyOmics, and Downstream Processing, provide interdisciplinary expertise and methodology which allow developing novel theoretical approaches and experimental strategies. Moreover, the Biocatalysis platform is involved in the education of excellent young scientists by closely collaborating with the CLIB-Graduate Cluster.

New partnerships – from research to market

The Biocatalysis platform conducts fundamental research, but also closely interacts with representatives of many SME as well as large enterprises including the associated partners B.R.A.I.N. AG and DASGIP AG. The Biocatalysis platform is always open to establish novel partnerships with industry to communicate knowledge and methodology thereby pushing novel technologies to market.


Prof. Dr. Andreas Schmid
Department of Biochemical and Chemical Engineering
TU Dortmund University
D-44227 Dortmund
Applied Biocatalysis Group
Dr. Bruno Bühler
Department of Biochemical and Chemical Engineering
TU Dortmund University
D-44227 Dortmund

Microbial Physiology Group
Dr. Stephanie Bringer-Meyer
Institute of Bio- und Geosciences 1
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
D-52425 Jülich

Biocatalysis and Biosensors Group
Prof. Dr. Martina Pohl
Institute of Bio- und Geosciences 1
Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
D-52425 Jülich

Associated partners of the Biocatalysis platform

      B.R.A.I.N. AG
      Darmstädter Str. 34-36
      D-64673 Zwingenberg

Rudolf-Schulten-Str. 5,
D-52428 Jülich



Cornelissen S., Liu S, Deshmukh A.T., Schmid A. and Buehler B. (2011), Cell physiology can determine the efficiency of cytochrome P450-catalyzed C-H-oxyfunctionalization. Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology, Accepted

Ütkür F. Ö., Gaykawad S., Buehler B. and Schmid A. (2010), Regioselective aromatic hydroxylation of quinaldine with water using quinaldine 4-oxidase in recombinant Pseudomonas putida. Journal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology10.1007/s10295-010-0883-6

Kuhn D., Blank L. M., Schmid A. and Buehler B. (2010), Systems biotechnology - rational biocatalyst and bioprocess design. Engineering in Life Sciences, 10(5):384–397