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FP6

QUORUM — Result In Brief

Project ID: 32811
Funded under: FP6-NMP
Country: Italy

Quorum sensing molecules for enhanced biofermentation

A novel strategy for production of secondary metabolites at industrial scale employing quorum sensing molecules was the subject of a European project.
Quorum sensing molecules for enhanced biofermentation
Bacteria and fungi respond to population density and regulate gene expression using an approach known as Quorum Sensing (QS). This mechanism allows them to coordinate certain behaviours and essentially serves as a means of communicating.

A European initiative worked to identify molecules involved in this process in order to improve the productivity of industrially important fungal bioproducts. More specifically, the EU-funded project Quorum followed a QS approach at nanoscale to better understand the physiology of fungus in agitated systems and how they biosynthesise target products.

By using various experimental techniques from functional genomics to molecular biology and fungal physiology, project partners discovered molecules that regulated sporulation and production of secondary metabolites or were involved in signal transduction. These QS molecules were exogenously added to a continuous culture of Aspergillus terreus in order to establish a strategy for enhanced production of secondary metabolites of industrial importance. This approach resulted in improvement of the commercially important metabolites, laccases.

The Quorum project also developed sensors that could be used in mini- and micro-scale bioreactors and are expected to benefit the biotechnology sector. Quorum project deliverables constitute leading-edge advances in enzyme and fine chemical production and are believed to enhance competitiveness and sustainability of European industries.

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