Project: Sustainable oleochemicals bioproduction from carboxylates via oleaginous fermentation

Acronym OLEOFERM (Reference Number: 29)
Duration 01/01/2021 - 01/12/2023
Project Topic OLEOFERM deals with the sustainable biotechnological conversion of organic wastes to short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) and the further transformation of these SCFAs into microbial oils. Strikingly, the obtaining of microbial oils, that can increase the source of oleochemicals or replace somehow fossil based chemicals by means of biotechnological route, has not been appropriately explored so far. For the success of this multidisciplinary project, OLEOFERM includes three scientific approaches included in the call (i.e., biotechnological approaches, use of the bioinformatics tools and system biology). All the three approaches are crucial to achieve the objectives of the project. More specifically, biotechnology is a key pillar of OLEOFERM in which two bioprocesses including anaerobic fermentation of organic wastes for SCFAs production and oleaginous fermentation for microbial oils are interconnected. Regarding the first bioprocess, the anaerobic fermentation conditions to favor SCFAs production and accumulation will be optimized and an appropriated SCFAs separation and purification method will be designed. On the other hand, screening and selection of new yeast strains together with optimization of fermentation conditions are biotechnological tools utilized in this project to favor microbial oils production.SCFAs conversion efficiencies into lipids remain unknown since the metabolic pathways by which SCFAs are metabolized by oleaginous yeast are controversial. Thus, system biology and bioinformatics tools will aid to unravel how carboxylates produced from organic wastes can be utilized by oleaginous yeast in an efficient way to accumulate high levels of microbial oils to be subsequently converted into oleochemicals.Bioinformatics tools will be utilized to link the anaerobic microbiome developed in the fermenters and the SCFAs profile and production. More precisely, next generation sequencing will be used to analyse 16S rRNA gene in order to identify both archaeal and bacterial communities in the anaerobic reactors. The raw sequences data retrieved from 16S rRNA gene sequencing will be analysed to identify statistical correlations between microbial communities, operational conditions and environmental parameters. This information will provide valuable knowledge about the key microorganisms and the conditions promoting the metabolic rates to accumulate SCFAs.System biology will be essential to investigate intracellular mechanisms for microbial lipids production from SCFAs in yeasts. The genome of the selected strains will be sequenced, and the genome sequence will be assembled and partially annotated. Moreover, extracted RNA will be used for RNA-sequencing and the transcriptomes will be analysed. The sets of genes with significantly higher expression under the high production conditions will be identified, for which bioinformatics is also required. At last, a model of the molecular mechanism leading to microbial oil production will be created.As a matter of fact,biotechnology, bioinformatics and system biology are not only important scientific approaches for the success of the process per se but their use in a combined and connected way is crucial for the proper development of OLEOFERM.
Network ERA CoBioTech
Call 3rd Joint Call on Biotechnologies

Project partner

Number Name Role Country
1 IMDEA Energy Coordinator Spain
2 Université Clermont Auvergne Partner France
3 University of Ljubljana Partner Slovenia
4 Jožef Stefan Institute Partner Slovenia
5 BIO-VALO Partner France