MICR40080 Microbial Natural Product Biosynthesis

Academic Year 2024/2025

Natural products are obtained from plants, micro-organisms and other life forms. Many of these compounds are biologically active and have important medical uses. Well-known examples include antibiotics (e. g. penicillins, vancomycin, erythromycin and tetracyclines), anticancer drugs (e. g. doxorubicin, taxol and epothilone) and immunosuppressants (e. g. cyclosporine and rapamycin). This course covers biosynthesis of natural products in micro-organisms. The main focus is on polyketides and non-ribosomal peptides, with some discussion of alkaloids and terpenes. The enzymes that catalyse assembly of polyketide and peptide chains are described in detail. Late modifications of core structures such as glycosylation and halogenation are also explained. The course then covers genetic manipulation of producer micro-organisms to engineer the biosynthesis of new compounds. This is important for drug discovery and for addressing the problem of drug resistance in infectious disease and cancer.

Show/hide contentOpenClose All

Curricular information is subject to change

Learning Outcomes:

On completion of this module students should be able to: (1) explain the reactions of fatty acid and polyketide biosynthesis; (2) describe the major classes of polyketide synthase (type I modular, type I iterative, type II and type III) and give examples of their product compounds; (3) give examples of how manipulation of polyketide synthase genes can lead to biosynthesis of new structures; (4) explain the reactions catalysed by non-ribosomal peptide synthetases; (5) explain glycosylation and halogenation as late modifications of polyketide and peptide core structures; (6) explain how knowledge of natural product biosynthesis can be exploited in biotechnology.

Student Effort Hours: 
Student Effort Type Hours


Specified Learning Activities


Autonomous Student Learning




Approaches to Teaching and Learning:
Lectures; active/task-based learning; peer and group work; lectures; enquiry & problem-based learning. 
Requirements, Exclusions and Recommendations

Not applicable to this module.

Module Requisites and Incompatibles
Natural Product Synthesis (INDM40080)

Assessment Strategy  
Description Timing Open Book Exam Component Scale Must Pass Component % of Final Grade

Not yet recorded.

Carry forward of passed components
Resit In Terminal Exam
Autumn Yes - 2 Hour
Please see Student Jargon Buster for more information about remediation types and timing. 
Feedback Strategy/Strategies

• Feedback individually to students, on an activity or draft prior to summative assessment
• Self-assessment activities

How will my Feedback be Delivered?

Not yet recorded.

Name Role
Professor Cormac Murphy Lecturer / Co-Lecturer
Mr Mark Hogan Tutor
Yuhao Song Tutor