Microbial biolabs for the production of natural compounds applicable in medicine, cosmetics and food

researchers Supreme Council for Scientific Research (CSIC) in the SynBio4Flav project, which is developing a technology to produce flavonoids and other highly complex natural substances using microbial communities as bioagents. This new technology could become a sustainable alternative to traditional crops for the traditional production of these materials from plant extracts, which are environmentally inefficient and have very low yields. Flavonoids are highly valuable compounds due to their multiple applications in medicine, cosmetics and food.

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

Researchers have developed a new technique for producing flavonoids. Photo: CNB-CSIC.

Researchers take advantage of the huge potential of microbial biosynthesis and their ability to co-exist in mutualistic 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 integration of microbial communities, in which the production of one species acts as a resource for another, the researcher explains.

The ultimate goal of the project is to develop local microbial factories with a significant capacity to convert urban and agricultural organic waste into value-added natural products. Nogales says the potential economic and environmental benefits are numerous, as this will allow expensive and currently scarce vehicles to become more affordable, as well as contribute to the conservation of natural resources.

SynBio4Flav is a project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Program with 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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