Microbial biofactories to produce natural compounds applicable in medicine, cosmetics and food

Researchers from the Higher Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) participate in the SynBio4Flav project, which develops a technology for the production of flavonoids and other highly complex natural substances using microbial communities as biofactors. This new technology can become a sustainable alternative to traditional crops to the traditional production of these substances from plant extracts, ecologically inefficient and with very low yields. Flavonoids are very valuable compounds due to their multiple applications in medicine, cosmetics and food.

The project, led by the researcher from the National Center for Biotechnology (CNB-CSIC) Juan Nogales, develops a production technique that allows a more efficient use of available resources through the use of microbial communities capable of replicating the synthesis processes of flavonoids from the plants. SynBio4Flav’s pioneering approach has the potential to be applied to the sustainable production of other complex organic compounds, says Nogales.

Researchers have developed a novel technology for the production of flavonoids. Photo: CNB-CSIC.

Researchers take advantage of the great biosynthetic potential of microbes and their ability to co-exist in synergistic communities. Instead of optimizing a single microbial species to produce flavonoids, the different stages of the production process are distributed among several species. It is a method based on the functional complementarity of microbial communities, where the production of one species serves as a resource for another, explains the researcher.

The ultimate goal of the project is to develop local microbial factories with a great capacity to transform urban and agricultural organic waste into natural products with added value. The potential economic and environmental benefits are numerous, since this will allow compounds that are currently expensive and scarce to become affordable, in addition to contributing to the conservation of natural resources, Nogales says.

SynBio4Flav is a project financed by the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program of the European Union and has the participation of research organizations, academic institutions, SMEs and large leading companies from Spain, Germany, Sweden, Poland, France, Italy and Austria. .

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