Institut für Systembiotechnologie

MYXO4PUFA - Sustainable production of omega-3 fatty acids based on myxobacterial genes

In collaboration with the newly founded biotechnology start-up company MyBiotech from Überherrn and the team of Rolf Müller (Microbial Natural Products, Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland (HIPS) ), the project (2017-2020) aims to develop a novel production process for the rare omega-3 fatty acids, such as docosapentaenoic acid (DPA) and eicosatetraenoic acid (ETA). Exploiting newly discovered biochemical pathways, we will facilitate the production of these complex molecules in microorganisms. Omega-3 fatty acids play an important role in our diet. They promote the development of the brain, especially in newborns, improve blood circulation and protect the joints. In particular, DPA and ETA have confirmed a health-promoting effect in recent studies. Due to the low natural levels, conventional extraction techniques based on fish oils are not suitable for the recovery of n-3 DPA or ETA. Within the project, we work on metabolic engineering of tailored cell factories and the development and optimization of bioprocesses for fermentative production.


Jovanovic S, Dietrich DL, Kohlstedt M, Becker J, Wittmann C (2021) Microbial production of polyunsaturated fatty acids – high-value ingredients for aquafeed, superfoods, and pharmaceuticals. Curr. Opin. Biotechnol. 69:199-211. Link.

Gemperlein, K, Dietrich, D, Kohlstedt, M, Zipf, G, Bernauer, H, Wittmann, C, Wenzel, S, Müller, R (2019) Polyunsaturated fatty acid production by Yarrowia lipolytica employing designed myxobacterial PUFA synthases. Nat. Commun. 10:4055. Link.

Gemperlein, K, Zaburannyi, N, Garcia, RO, La Clair, J, Müller, R (2018) Metabolic and Biosynthetic Diversity in Marine Myxobacteria. Mar. Drugs 2018, 16:314. Link.

Gemperlein, K, Rachid, S, Garcia, RO, Wenzel, SC, Müller, R (2014) Polyunsaturated fatty acid biosynthesis in myxobacteria: different PUFA synthases and their product diversity. Chem. Sci., 2014, 5, 1733. Link.