Method for Production of Novel Diterpene Scaffolds


Executive Summary


Many insecticides currently in use are problematic due to persistence in the environment and off target effects including accumulation in apex predator species. Therefore effective crop-protecting agents that are naturally sourced and that overcome some of these side effects are under increasing demand. This technology identifies biosynthetic pathways towards a number of plant derived chemicals with documented insect antifeedant activities.


Description of Technology


Diterpenes are 20-carbon molecules derived from 4 isoprene subunits. Clerodane diterpenes in particular have attracted interest in recent years due to their notable biological activities as insecticides and repellants. Diverse diterpene skeletons can be created through the action of interchangeable diterpene synthases classified as Class II (acting on the universal diterpene substrate, GGPP) and Class I (acting on the Class II product). This technology identifies several Class II and Class I enzymes from the plant family Lamiaceae, a rich source of diterpene synthases. These provide access to novel clerodane type diterpene skeletons with documented insect antifeedant activities as well as creating a platform for discovery of additional related compounds. These diterpenes may also be useful as flavorings or fragrances.  Synthesis of many of these compounds has been demonstrated through transient expression in Nicotiana benthamiana. 


Key Benefits:

  • Novel diterpenoid and secondary metabolite production
  • Formation of previously inaccessible compounds (intermediates or unknown)
  • Compounds where access was economically not feasible (larger quantities and easier extraction)
  • Potential discovery platform for industrial need of new compounds



  • Core diterpenoid molecules (precursors) leading to diverse markets
  • Agricultural insecticide, repellant, or antifeedant
  • Fungicides
  • Miticides
  • Fragrance and flavor industries (food, cosmetic, etc.)


Patent Status:


United States provisional patent application filed August, 2018


Licensing Rights Available:


Full rights available.




Bjoern Hamberger, Ph.D.; Sean Johnson, Ph.D.; Wajid Waheed Bhat, Ph.D.


Tech ID:




Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University