Cyanobacteria have significant potential as industrial biotechnology platforms to produce a wide variety of bio-products, such as polymers, sugars and powerful antioxidants such as C-phycocyanin. Our team have created a set of genetic tools that give significant advantages in the microalgae industry for save, efficient and specific bioproduction.

Using bacteria to produce bio-products

Cyanobacteria have significant potential as industrial biotechnology platforms to produce a wide variety of bio-products, such as polymers, sugars and powerful antioxidants such as C-phycocyanin. Photosynthetic cyanobacteria have a much higher growth rate than plants and the carbon fixation/light energy ratio is far more efficient (30 times higher), with nutrients requirements much lower than plants (with some species being capable of atmospheric nitrogen fixation) and don’t require arable land to grow.Still, the biotechnology application of cyanobacteria has significant drawbacks.

The cell harvesting is very costly and time consuming and cyanobacteria lack reliable control mechanisms for gene expression. Control of gene expression is extremely important in cases where an engineered pathway is producing a toxic intermediate or imposes a high metabolic burden to the bacterial cells, which may lead to genetic instability and loss of cell viability if the genes are not tightly regulated.

Simplifying the production of expensive drug components

The focys of this project is on producing and extracting C-phycocyanin and L-iduronic acid.

C-phycocyanin is a very powerful antioxidant, today mainly extracted from Spirulina platensis. However, productivity is limited because biomass production is highly dependent on optimal light conditions.

L-iduronic acid is a very expensive sugar and principal component of the common drug heparin – a medication used as an anticoagulant and one of the most effective and safe drugs used in the health care system in the world today. This principal uronic acid in heparin, is not available from natural sources in large quantities and must be synthesized chemically which is very costly, complicated and time consuming.

A new solusion for energy- and resource consuming bioprocesses

With knowledge in molecular biology and genetic engineering and extended experimental experience with cyanobacteria our team have created a set of genetic tools that give significant advantages in the microalgae industry. These tools allow for the development of:

  • a reliable, robust and secure gene regulation system that can be used to optimize the biosynthesis of a desired high-value product in cyanobacteria and can be adapted to different environmental stimuli.
  • cyanobacterial cells that are programmed to self-aggregate when growth cultures reach high cell density, allowing for optimal biomass production and greatly facilitating cell harvesting.
  • cyanobacterial cells highly resistant to high-light and oxidative stress.
  • cyanobacterial cells with optimal biomass production.
  • cyanobacterial cells with increased production of specific sugar residues.

UBI Incubation Phase

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Contact Information

Umeå Biotech Incubator
Tvistevägen 48C
907 36 Umeå
Helder Miranda
Case manager at UBI and Molecular Biologist