Henrik Toft Simonsen

Potential Speaker for plant biology conference 2017-Henrik Toft Simonsen

Title: Fragrant plants used as air fresheners in private households

Henrik Toft Simonsen

Technical University of Denmark, Denmark


Henrik Toft Simonsen obtained his PhD degree for the Danish University of Pharmaceutical Sciences in 2002, following a post doc at University of Cambridge he took up a post doc at University of Copenhagen in 2006. Here he established his research group and became an Associate Professor in 2008. In 2016, he moved to the Technical University of Denmark with his research group. HTS founded the company Mosspiration Biotech together with Hansol Bae in 2016. HTS has published more than 50 papers and 5 patents.


Direct assembly of multiple linear DNA fragments via homologous recombination, a phenomenon known asassembly was recently introduced as a technology for transformation of the moss Physcomitrella patens1. This technology has enable us to establish several sesquiterpenoid-producing lines in this green cell factory2. We have demonstrated that we in moss can produce up to 200 mg/L amorphadiene (the precursor for Artemisinin) and that we can achieve a production of 0.21 mg/g dry weight of Artemisinin within just a few days of cultivation3.

Similarly we have established lines that produce several fragrances of patchoulol4, santalene4, bisabolol, α-humulene and valencene at the levels between 0.2 – 1.8 mg/g dry weight. Altogether, this show that the moss is a very good cell factory for the production of terpenoids and in particularly sesquiterpenoids. This has allowed us to establish a fragrant moss line, see more www.fragrantmoss.com

Our research also demonstrates that employing the same strategies as for yeast, such as upregulation of HMGR and overexpression of FPPS enhances the overall yield of terpenoids 4.

These proof-of-principle experiments have paved the way for more complex and increasingly flexible approaches for large-scale metabolic engineering in plant biotechnology. First was the successful integration of five active genes for Artemisinin, but the focus is now for truly freshening fragrances for private households.