Bioorganic chemistry

In times of raw material change, the Straubing innovation field of bioinspired chemistry, which also includes the subject area Bioorganic Chemistry, has set itself the goal of developing the products of tomorrow.


Nature as a role model

The idea behind both is the controlled use of molecular functionalities found exclusively in nature for the development of new synthesis routes to innovative green fine and speciality chemicals, functional materials and biobased polymers (Figure).

Enzymes – Natural catalysts for fine and speciality chemicals

In addition to classical chemo-enzymatic synthesis, we are also engaged in the discovery of new enzyme activities. Thus, known enzymes can be replaced by enzymes with improved properties and thus synthesis can be optimised, but also completely new enzyme activities can be identified and thus novel synthesis routes and products can be derived. For example, we were able to establish a screening procedure for methyltransferases, a class of enzymes that can play an important role in the field of drug synthesis. The procedure enabled us to uncover previously unknown enzyme activities for various substrates.


Functional materials with natural properties

In the field of functional materials, both biomass (residues) and proteins can be considered as starting materials. Our goal here is to preserve the functional properties (information) present in the natural starting material and transfer them to the end product. This enables us to develop completely novel materials or to modify surfaces in a targeted way. For example, we were able to successfully use hydrophobic proteins for water-repellent textiles.


Chemo-enzymatic synthesis routes

  • Utilization of biomass
  • Development of combined synthesis routes
  • Enzyme selection and screening
  • Optimization of enzymes and enzyme reactions
  • Replacement of classical syntheses (fine chemicals)
  • Enantiomerically pure product synthesis (active ingredients)


Functional proteins: proteins in material and application development

  • Physical surface functionalization
  • Functional proteins for specific binding


Hadas Simon-Baram, Steffen Roth, Christina Niedermayer, Patricia Huber, Melanie Speck, Julia Diener, Michael Richter, Shimon Bershtein. A High-Throughput Continuous Spectroscopic Assay to Measure the Activity of Natural Product Methyltransferases, ChemBioChem 2022, e202200162,

Subrizi, F., Wang, Y., Thair, B., Méndez-Sánchez, D., Roddan, R., Cárdenas-Fernández, M., Siegrist, J., Richter, M., Andexer, J. N., Ward, J. M., Hailes, H. C. Multienzyme One-Pot Cascades Incorporating Methyltransferases for the Strategic Diversification of Tetrahydroisoquinoline Alkaloids. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed., 2021, 60, 18673,

Richter, M., Vieira, L., Sieber, V. Sustainable Chemistry – An Interdisciplinary Matrix Approach. ChemSusChem, 2021, 14, 251,

Hofer, M., Diener, J., Begander, B., Kourist, R., Sieber, V. Engineering of a borneol dehydrogenase from P. putida for the enzymatic resolution of camphor. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2021,1053159–3167,

Roth, S., Funk, I., Hofer, M., Sieber, V. Chemoenzymatic Synthesis of a Novel Borneol‐Based Polyester. ChemSusChem, 2017, 10(18), 3574-3580,

Hofer, M., Strittmatter, H., Sieber, V. Biocatalytic Synthesis of a Diketobornane as a Building Block for Bifunctional Camphor Derivatives. ChemCatChem, 2013, 5(11): p. 3351-3357,

Reiter, J., Strittmatter, H., Wiemann, L.O., Schieder, D., Sieber, V. Enzymatic cleavage of lignin β-O-4 aryl ether bonds via net internal hydrogen transfer. Green Chemistry, 2013, 15(5): p. 1373-1381,

Reference projects


November 2023 – October 2026


Electrobiocatalytic cascade for bulk reduction of CO2 to CO coupled to fermentative production of high value diamine monomers

ECOMO unites bioelectrocatalysis, biohybrid materials sciences, organic synthesis, technical microbiology, and process engineering for CO gas fermentation to acetate and a subsequent fermentative production of diamines.


January 2024 – December 2026


Simulation-guided development of an electricity or H2-driven in-vitro acetyl-CoA production module as platform chemical from CO2 for diversity oriented synthesis

In eCO₂DIS, synthetic biology, bioelectrocatalysis and polymer chemistry will converge to a powerful technology for diversity oriented synthesis of value added target compounds directly from CO₂. The synthetic diversification of acetyl-CoA will be demonstrated for 3 different product types: aliphatic alcohols, aromatics, and structurally complex natural products.


April 2019 – December 2022

KERAbond –

Specialty chemicals from customized functional keratin proteins

Plastics and specialty chemicals are now ubiquitous and irreplaceable in many areas. Up to now, fossil sources have usually had to be used as starting materials for their synthesis. Henkel AG & Co. KGaA and Fraunhofer IGB are taking a new approach by using keratin, the main component of animal feathers as a biopolymer raw material.


April 2018 – March 2021

BioDiMet –

Selective sustainable methylation for a diversity-oriented synthesis of bioactive substances

The aim of the BioDiMet project is the development of a robust and straightforward biocatalytic methyltransferase toolbox that can be applied for the selective synthesis of novel bioactives or precursors in an industrial setting.


January 2016 – April 2018

Hydrophobic proteins

for surface functionalization

Binding of functional proteins to membrane surfaces can provide them with new properties. Such biologization offers many advantages, has high industrial relevance and can be of great ecological and economical importance as a strategy for textile finishing. This applies in particular to the production of water-repellent textiles that until now have been mainly provided with environmentally unfriendly fluorinated hydrocarbons.


January 2016 – December 2017

Bi-Amin –

Producing amines more sustainably

Amines play an important role in the chemical industry. They are manufactured in a wide variety as building blocks for agricultural and pharmaceutical chemicals as well as surfactants, coatings and lubricants.


July 2013 – December 2016

Lignoplast –

Functionalized lignin degradation molecules as platform chemicals

We developed processes for the chemical industry to produce plastics from wood. The basis are lignins contained in woody biomass. By means of base-catalyzed cleavage, these organic compounds are decomposed into phenol derivatives, which can be further processed into high-quality polyurethane foams or polyols for polyurethane coatings.   

Further projects