Biotechnological synthesis of pure ingredients of natural essential oils

Essential oils from plants contain a wide variety of fragrance molecules. These compounds are often used a mixtures, either from plant extract or from chemical synthesis. We have developed an enzyme platform that allows the selective synthesis of the pure isomers of several monoterpenoids from biobased precursors.


Essential oils from plants contain mixtures of bioactive natural products. Monoterpene alcohols and ketones find wide application as ingredients of fragrances. These compounds are often used as complex mixtures either from plant extracts or from their chemical derivatization. For instance, ‘synthetic borneol’ and ‘semi-synthetic borneol’ are mixtures of different borneol isomers stemming from the chemical reduction of racemic camphor or (+)-camphor, respectively. The use of pure compounds offers a better control of the olfactory effects of a fragrance.


Biocatalysis allows the synthesis of these products in high purity from inexpensive bio-based starting material under sustainable conditions. By genome mining and enzyme engineering, researchers from acib in collaboration with the Fraunhofer IGB have developed an enzyme platform for the stereoselective conversion of bicyclic monoterpenoids. The enzyme platform allows the synthesis of biocatalytic synthesis of the pure enantiomers in optically pure form with outstanding selectivity (>99%ee/>99%de) from the inexpensive bio-based starting material α-pinene.


acib offers expertise for the further up-scale and optimization of the process and the expansion of the platform for the synthesis of pure monoterpenoids by genome mining and directed enzyme evolution.


Prof. Dr. Robert Kourist, Prof. Dr. Harald Pichler

Available for:

Joint Research Project, Contract Research

Development status:

Technology Readiness Level 2-3


Can be generated for our industrial partners / investors


Biocatalysis, Genome Mining, Enzyme Evolution, Fragrance & Flavor, Monoterpernoids, Selective synthesis

Dr. Martin U. Trinker
Director Business Development & Fundraising
Krenngasse 37
8010 Graz
+43 316 873 9316