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CORDIS

INNOVATIVE AND EFFICIENT SOLUTION FOR PRODUCTION IN MICROALGAE OF EASILY EXTRACTIBLE AND HIGHLY PURE ASTAXANTHIN FOR ADDED-VALUE PRODUCTS

Project description

Microalgae ramp up production of one of the most powerful antioxidants

Astaxanthin belongs to the carotenoid class, a group of common pigments found in red and yellow plants as well as algae and bacteria. It is also one of the most powerful antioxidants around. Antioxidants are literally compounds that are 'against oxidation'. More specifically, they protect cells from free radicals, unstable molecules produced as a result of oxidation reactions associated with normal metabolic processes. Antioxidants are important additives to products we eat or put on our skin because they may help protect us against cancer, heart disease, stroke and various conditions related to the ageing process. Microalgae have become the most promising sources for the industrial production of astaxanthin, and the EU-funded ASTEASY project is exploiting that potential, bringing to market its process to significantly increase astaxanthin yield, decrease production time and cut costs.

Objective

Astaxanthin is a carotenoid with a high commercial value. Its high anti-oxidant activity makes Astaxanthin being used as a food/feed supplements, in cosmetics, and in nutraceutics. Microalgae are the main primary sources of Astaxanthin, being produced at industrial level mainly by cultivation of the green alga Haematococcus pluvialis with high costs for cultivation and extraction, hindering its market.
In the ERC-StG-SOLENALGAE project the investigation of the role of carotenoids in photoprotection in microalgae led to the development of an innovative platform for Astaxanthin production. Strains with high Astaxanthin accumulation were indeed obtained by metabolic engineering in the green alga Chlamydomonas reinhardtii (usually not accumulating Astaxanthin), producing up to 4 mg/L per day in non-optimized growth conditions. Astaxanthin production by bkt15 strain revealed unique advantages compared to other source of natural Astaxanthin: production of Astaxanthin in continuous, in a single cultivation step; high bio-accessibility for animal or human assimilation; easier extraction of astaxanthin even without costly cell pre-treatments; lower extraction costs and no contamination from oxidant molecules as chlorophylls during extraction process. These advantages lead to a potential increase in pure Astaxanthin productivity up to 16-fold higher than the current methods.
ASTEASY PoC aims to the technological development of the new system, by optimizing the cultivation conditions and extraction processes of Astaxanthin from the bkt15 strain and validating the performances in 60 litres demonstrator units. We will also identify and protect the IP generated and analyse the certification needed for commercialization. A business plan will be drafted as a result of interactions with stakeholders and literature analysis, to define market size and trends, and consolidate the business model (Astaxanthin production through a dedicated spin-off vs licensing to Astaxanthin producers).

Host institution

UNIVERSITA DEGLI STUDI DI VERONA
Net EU contribution
€ 150 000,00
Address
VIA DELL ARTIGLIERE 8
37129 Verona
Italy

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Region
Nord-Est Veneto Verona
Activity type
Higher or Secondary Education Establishments
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Total cost
No data

Beneficiaries (1)