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Hydrogen oxidizing bacteria engineered to valorize CO2 for whey protein production

Project description

New platform to replace conventional food proteins

Milk protein is vital for our nutrition, yet its traditional production methods inflict significant environmental impacts, from greenhouse gas emissions to extensive land usage. Conventional dairy practices contribute to global warming and resource depletion. In this context, the EIC-funded HYDROCOW project aims to create a net-zero carbon dairy protein production platform. Specifically, it will develop a cutting-edge bacterial protein secretion system using an engineered hydrogen oxidising bacterium called Xanthobacter sp. SoF1. This system will convert CO2 and soon nitrogen into food-grade protein, decoupling it from agriculture. Through a design-build-test-learn cycle, HYDROCOW will optimise secreted protein production, delivering essential technologies, predictive metabolic models, genetic engineering tools and a high-throughput screening system.


Milk protein plays an important role in our nutrition, however classical milk production has significant environmental impacts, from greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions to extensive land demand. Project HYDROCOW addresses these challenges through a net-zero carbon dairy protein production platform. The main objective of the project isto develop and demonstrate a bacterial protein secretion system where CO2 and soon N2 is valorised into food-grade protein, decoupled from agriculture. This system will base on the first-of-a-kind engineered hydrogen oxidizing bacterium (eHOB) Xanthobacter sp. SoF1. As a first product the main milk component beta-lactoglobulin was chosen.
Technically this will be achieved by implementing a Design-Build-Test-Learn (DBTL) cycle linked to a validation and scale-up phase allowing to iteratively optimize the production of secreted protein. The project will deliver key technologies – A) an innovative eHOB protein secretion system; B) predictive eHOB metabolic models, genetic engineering tools, and a novel high-throughput (HTP) screening system for DBTL cycling; and C) the methods for validation and scale-up – with immediate and long-term impact on the production of food and nutrition, materials, medicines, fuels and chemicals.
In the long-term, the proposed platform has the potential to not only replace conventionally produced food proteins but also deliver proteins for materials or therapeutics, important for human and animal health. In comparison to current standard microbial production processes our platform does not compete with human nutrition for valuable feedstock, such as glucose, and therefore will contribute to a sustainable development of our society. HYDROCOW will generate significant knowledge for a growing research and application community about autotrophic, microbial production systems, their physiology, and sophisticated tools for genetically designing and screening them.


Net EU contribution
€ 1 626 325,00
53850 Lappeenranta

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The organization defined itself as SME (small and medium-sized enterprise) at the time the Grant Agreement was signed.

Manner-Suomi Etelä-Suomi Etelä-Karjala
Activity type
Private for-profit entities (excluding Higher or Secondary Education Establishments)
Total cost
€ 1 626 325,00

Participants (2)

Partners (1)