Background:Geranylgeranyl reductase (GGR) is a flavin-containing redox enzyme that hydrogenates a variety of unactivated polyprenyl substrates, which are further processed mostly for lipid biosynthesis in archaea or chlorophyll biosynthesis in plants. To date, only a few GGR genes have been confirmed to reduce polyprenyl substrates in vitro or in vivo. Results:In this work, we aimed to expand the confirmed GGR activity space by searching for novel genes that function under amenable conditions for microbial mesophilic growth in conventional hosts such as Escherichia coli or Saccharomyces cerevisiae. 31 putative GGRs were selected to test for potential reductase activity in vitro on farnesyl pyrophosphate, geranylgeranyl pyrophosphate, farnesol (FOH), and geranylgeraniol (GGOH). We report the discovery of several novel GGRs exhibiting significant activity toward various polyprenyl substrates under mild conditions (i.e., pH 7.4, T = 37 °C), including the discovery of a novel bacterial GGR isolated from Streptomyces coelicolor. In addition, we uncover new mechanistic insights within several GGR variants, including GGR-mediated phosphatase activity toward polyprenyl pyrophosphates and the first demonstration of completely hydrogenated GGOH and FOH substrates. Conclusion:These collective results enhance the potential for metabolic engineers to manufacture a variety of isoprenoid-based biofuels, polymers, and chemical feedstocks in common microbial hosts such as E. coli or S. cerevisiae.