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Increased production of pigments and lipids by yeast from renewable feedstock

Researchers from BCBT group at The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability – Technical University of Denmark have developed a method that could make it cheaper to produce carotenoids and lipids by yeast from wheat straw (one of the main agricultural residues in Denmark) as renewable carbon source. The study was recently published in Journal of Cleaner Production.

Carotenoids, those pigments responsible for orange, yellow and red hues in many vegetables and fruits, have antioxidant properties and play an important role in human health. On the other hand, microbial lipids have a wide range of applications ranging from food supplements to oleochemicals and biodiesel production.

“The production of valuable compounds such as carotenoids and lipids by oleaginous yeasts is a promising alternative when compared to the current production methods. However, one of the main obstacles in the development of this bioprocess at industrial scale is the use of expensive substrates as carbon source. The replacement of pure glucose by sugars obtained from low-cost, abundant and renewable lignocellulosic biomass may lead to lower production costs”, explains lead author Dr. Solange I. Mussatto.

In Denmark, 2.66 million tons of wheat straw were produced and 1.16 million tons (43%) were left on the field in 2017 (Danmarks Statistic).

“In this study, we screened different yeasts and selected those with higher potential to produce carotenoids and lipids. Then, we improved the performance of these yeasts using the fermentable sugars released from wheat straw”, said co-author Zhijia Liu.

Dr. Giuliano Dragone from BCBT group and Dr. Adam Feist from The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability and the Department of Bioengineering, University of California, San Diego participated also in this work.

This work was supported by the Novo Nordisk Foundation (NNF), Denmark (grant number NNF10CC1016517), the China Scholarship Council (CSC) and the Agencia Nacional de Investigación e Innovación (ANII), Uruguay (project number FSE_S_2017_1_144465).

Find out more about this study here:

Did you know?

Carotenoids cannot be synthesized by humans, so they need to be ingested in the diet.


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