Photo of Jun Ni

Biotechnology & medicine

Jun Ni

Building a microbial factory, green synthesis brings a new industrialization model

Year Honored


For thousands of years, human beings have been constantly seizing resources from nature. Uncontrolled development is not only draining resources, but also exacerbating pollution by the waste generated from it, which places a heavy burden on the environment.

What will humankind do before all of our resources run out? How can we sustain commercial interests while preventing non-renewable resources from being destroyed?

About 100 years ago, Giacomo Ciamician, the father of photochemistry, proposed that  real green synthesis should produce chemicals in a plant-like manner. However, achieving such green synthesis, especially for natural plant products synthesis, has puzzled academia for many years. This question piqued Jun Ni’s strong interest.

To answer this question, Jun used photosynthetic microorganisms to produce a series of high-value natural products directly from solar energy and greenhouse gases, CO2. In addition, he constructed an artificial metabolic sink in photosynthetic microorganisms for the production of valuable natural products. By doing this, the average carbon fixation rate of the engineered strain was significantly increased by 68.7%.

In China, agricultural production is often accompanied by a large amount of agricultural waste. The high-efficiency utilization of agricultural waste also offers a promising route for coupling environmentally sustainable development with petrochemical replacement.

To solve the agriculture waste issue, Jun developed a green synthesis for converting lignin waste to valuable natural products and proposed a temperature/pH-directed strategy to eliminate the side reaction in metabolic engineering. This green workflow for converting lignin to value-added products can facilitate the comprehensive use of agricultural wastes and enhance the entire efficiency of biorefineries.

Transforming trash to treasure, these pioneering achievements of green synthesis in the sustainable production of high-value natural plant products will play an essential role in mitigating climate change, promoting sustainable economic growth and could potentially revolutionize the whole industry from many aspects.