The application of enzymes or microorganism for chemical purposes has attracted growing attention in recent years (Biocatalysis / White biotechnology). Enzymes are the catalysts of nature and share many synthetically attractive features, like a high selectivity, mild reaction conditions and the possibility to combine them to multi-enzyme cascades. These properties significantly reduce the resource consumption associated with enzyme reactions. The occurrence of by-products is minimised as well as purification efforts. Ultimately, relevant amounts of organic solvents, toxic chemicals and energy can be saved. Some enzymes are also able to catalyse chemically unprecedented reactions, thus adding novel tools to the repertoire of the organic chemist.
The secondary metabolism as a novel source of biocatalysts
The secondary metabolism is a hitherto largely untapped source of enzymes with novel, synthetic attractive activities. The study of these targets has become much easier due to progress in gene technology during recent years. Even whole microbial genomes can be sequenced with reasonable efforts nowadays so that sequence information of many enzymes is available. Exploiting this giant source of potential catalysts holds great promise to further expand the scope of biocatalysis.