Institut für Systembiotechnologie

Novel BMBF-funded project to produce health-promoting omega-3 fatty acids in microbes

News March 1, 2021

Polyunsaturated fatty acids (PUFAs), primarily the marine ones, docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), have received worldwide attention in recent years due to an increasing awareness of their uniqueness in improving diet and human health and their apparently inevitable shortage in global availability. For the next 3 years, our research to produce these precious molecules by means of microbial cell is funded by the Federal Ministry for Education and Research (BMBF) in the framework of the project Myxo4Pufa-2.

The project addresses a major challenge to supply omega-3 fatty acids for applications in PUFA-rich aquafeed, superfoods, and medical formulations. Commonly, we take in DHA and EPA from fish. However, wild fish shows a dramatic decay in natural DHA and EPA level, and wild fisheries provide less and less capture for the growing world population due to overfishing. Aquaculture, meant to provide fish instead, heavily depends on DHA and EPA supply itself. At this stage, microbial cell factories emerge as most attractive source for high-level PUFA production and broadening of the PUFA spectrum.

In Myxo4Pufa-2, we team up with the Helmholtz-Centre for Pharmaceutical Sciences as academic partner and two local enterprises: MyBiotech and KD Pharma. MyBiotech is a high-tech SME, specialized on the development of health-related production processes. KD Pharma is one of the global leaders in high-purity PUFA manufacturing, due to its proprietary purification technologies. Our team of PhD students and postdocs at iSBio will develop high-efficiency DHA and EPA cell factories, using systems metabolic engineering. In addition, we aim at novel fermentation technology to enable economically viable production in the future.

The project Myxo4Pufa-2 is funded by the BMBF for a period of three years (March 2021 – February 2024). The project has a total budget of 1.95 Million €. The iSBio will receive a funding of 710,000 €.