Tailor-made microbial oils and (hydroxy) fatty acids

Projecttitel: Tailor-made microbial oils and (hydroxy) fatty acids
Projectnummer: LWV19221
Missie: Kringlooplandbouw
MMIP: A3 Hergebruik zij- en reststromen
Looptijd: 2019 – 2024
Projectleider: Jeroen Hugenholtz

This project offers a more sustainable, flexible and streamlined solution for the growing demand for oils and fatty acids by developing a microbial production platform as sustainable replacement for the currently most-utilized source; palm oil. It will use well-known oil-producing yeasts such as Cryptococcus curvatus and the food-grade Yarrowia lipolytica, which are known to accumulate oils up to 70% of their biomass. The project will address various biological strategies to control chain length and/or saturation level of the fatty acids by targeting the expression levels of all relevant yeast genes involved and by taking into account their embedding in whole yeast. This will be done by deploying a Design-Build-Test-Learn (DBTL) approach involving from the onset model-driven design at the various necessary scales, by intertwining predictive metabolic (and other) models for fatty-acid biosynthesis with thorough experimental testing and validation and by iteratively integrating large omics datasets and machine-learning algorithms for interpretation, design and refining. By relying on this flexible, model-based and modular platform, the project will also address the development of biocatalytic routes for the conversion of the microbial fatty acids into their hydroxy derivatives, which are valuable bioactive compounds with applications in food, feed, cosmetic and industrial products. The involvement of several industrial partners active in the Food, Feed and Home/Personal Care sectors will ensure translation from pre-competitive, fundamental research to industrial application.