Diverse cytochrome P450s (CYPs) in nature can modify terpenoid scaffolds toward products with higher structural complexity and chemical diversity, but their discovery remains challenging. Now, an Escherichia coli -based gene screening platform enables high-throughput bacterial CYP screening, leading to efficient and diverse terpenoid biosynthesis.
Terpenoids constitute the largest and most diverse group of natural products. With over 110,000 distinct analogues widely distributed in animals, plants, and microbes, they account for a large volume — approximately 60% — of known natural products1,2. Terpenoids are used extensively in the agriculture, biofuels, food and even pharmaceutical industries: the latter application is exemplified by artemisinin, a sesquiterpene lactone for malaria treatment, the discovery of which merited the 2015 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine3. The structural complexity and chemical diversity of terpenoids underscore their broad applications, which, however, also introduce unique challenges in the elucidation of their synthetic pathway and industrial biomanufacturing.