Designer cells for capturing the greenhouse gas CO2

July 10, 2018

Marburg research group receives EUR 1.5 million from the Volkswagen Foundation to research new CO2 conversion methods

As part of the “BRILIANCE” project (BRinging Inorganic carbon to LIfe with Artificial CO2-fixation in a minimal Cell) researchers hope to re-programme designer cells in such a way that they develop an entirely new metabolic pathway with which they can bind and convert the greenhouse gas CO2. For this purpose, the working groups headed by Prof. Dr. Roland Lill (Institute for Cytobiology at Philipps University) and Dr. Tobias Erb (Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology) at the Centre for Synthetic Microbiology (Synmikro) in Marburg are cooperating with the J. Craig Venter Institute in the USA. The consortium is being funded with EUR 1.5 million from the Volkswagen Foundation over a period of five years as part of the funding line “Life? – A Fresh Scientific Approach to the Basic Principles of Life”.

The new approach to converting CO2 can serve as an alternative to natural CO2 conversion processes, such as those that occur in plants during photosynthesis. The aim of the new CO2 synthesis approach is to facilitate the easy creation of the organic compounds that we need in our daily lives – in order to produce food, fuel and pharmaceuticals directly from CO2, for example. Using this approach, the intention is to precisely research, imitate and re-invent the fundamental property of life, to convert inanimate carbon into organic compounds.

95 applications were submitted to the Volkswagen Foundation overall. Of these, just seven projects were funded, with a total amount of EUR 9.8 million. All the projects funded are dedicated to the fundamental question of the basic principles of life. For example, the scientific projects focus on the formation of multi-cellular life forms from single cells, and the origin of the first proteins in the cell.

Further information:


Prof. Dr. Roland Lill
Institut für Zytobiologie
Fachbereich Medizin
Philipps-Universität Marburg
Tel.: 06421 28-66449

Dr. Tobias J. Erb
Department für Biochemie & Synthetischer Metabolismus
Max Planck Institute for Terrestrial Microbiology
35043 Marburg
Tel.: 06421 178-700


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