Institut für Systembiotechnologie

iSBio goes on board - BMBF project EXPLOMARE explores novel biotechnological processes based on marine resources

Press release June 3, 2020

With its new BioProMare initiative, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is pursuing the goal of recognizing and enabling the biotechnological potential of the marine habitat, which has so far been little explored, but promises new products and services and to support the transformation to the bioeconomy by increasing the competitiveness of this sustainable economy.

As part of this exciting initiative, the iSBio team is a partner in the EXPLOMARE project, which will design and create novel approaches towards high-value active ingredients over the next three years (May 2020 - April 2023). EXPLOMARE will establish a unique marine value chain for this purpose.

We project aims to enable the production of novel active substances of marine origin with customized cell factories of the Streptomyces genus. The bacteria will also come from the sea. They are therefore well-adapted to high salt levels, which are probably crucial for the effective functioning of marine natural product synthesis routes. Natural product gene clusters from the sea are often difficult to express in conventional terrestrial microorganisms. With the help of synthetic biology and metabolic engineering, we will stepwise upgrade the marine microbes into efficient microbial cell factories.

The biotechnological processes envisioned in later project stages will use marine seaweed as a raw material. These macroalgae are considered to be one of the most promising renewable raw materials in the world - they can be grown directly in the sea without fertilizer, pesticides and competition with valuable arable land, where they grow up to 70 meters long due to their rapid growth and deliver higher biomass yields than, for example, corn or cereals.

For the innovative development in EXPLOMARE, the teams of Prof. Christoph Wittmann (Institute for Systems Biotechnology) and Prof. Andriy Luzhetskyy (Pharmaceutical Biotechnology) from Saarland University combine their expertise in metabolic engineering, synthetic biology and bioprocess development. Prof. Luzhetskyy's group has been a leader in the use and development of Streptomyces for the targeted production of natural products for many years. Prof. Wittmann's team has specialized in the tailored design of cell factories for a sustainable bioeconomy and successfully uses algae raw materials as one of its feedstocks. Other cooperation partners in EXPLOMARE are the Saarland start-up company MyBiotech from Überherrn, which will research suitable processes for purifying the expensive products, and the Center for Biotechnology at Bielefeld University, which will carry out essential systems biology analyzes analysis for the project. EXPLOMARE has a total budget of 1.75 million euros. The two teams of the Saarland University will receive 1.0 million euros in funding.