Scholarship code CU3.281

Biocatalytic transformations in unconventional green solvents

  • Reference person
  • Host University/Institute
    University of Turin
  • Internship
  • Research Keywords
    Green processes
    Fine chemicals
  • Reference ERCs
  • Reference SDGs
    GOAL 3: Good Health and Well-being
    GOAL 4: Quality Education
    GOAL 5: Gender Equality


Biocatalysis has become a valuable method for manufacturing chiral synthons for agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals due to its high intrinsic regio-, chemo- and stereoselectivity. Furthermore, as biocatalysts operate under mild (physiological) conditions they are often compatible with each other rendering them suitable for multi-step cascade processes in one pot. Cascade reactions are very attractive as yield-reducing intermediate product isolation is not necessary. Additionally, improved step- and atom economy translate into significant economic and environmental benefits. Apart from a few exceptions, enzymes display the highest activity in buffered systems; however, most of the industrially relevant substrates are hydrophobic and hence hardly soluble in aqueous buffers. If emulsions or two-phase systems are not suitable for the respective biocatalyst, overall productivity of these biotransformations is limited. Inactivation can be circumvented when enzymes are operated as whole cells. Here, the implementation of living cells, resting cells or even lyophilised cells is an option. The cell envelope may protect the enzyme from the organic exterior by providing an environment closer to nature. Often the application of organic solvent also facilitates product isolation as tedious product extraction from an aqueous phase can be omitted. Hence, biocatalytic cascades using whole cells in organic media offer a highly potent alternative to standard chemical syntheses to establish cheap, selective and efficient production processes.In this PhD project, biocatalysts as isolated enzymes or as whole cells will be used in unconventional green solvents, mainly Deep Eutectic Solvents to promote chemo-. Regio- and stereocontrolled transformations leading to target compounds as fine chemicals of pharmaceutical or agrochemical interests.

Suggested skills:

The candidate should be familiar with:Organic synthesis and basic principles of catalysisGreen chemistryEnzymesProtein structures and biocatalytic mode of actionsWhole cells catalysis

Research team and environment

The research team is composed by myself (full professor in organic chemistry) and:2 associate professors1 post doc3 PhD students2 graduate students 5 thesis students