Boosting the production of innovative bola amphiphiles by applying integrated omics analyses.

01 January 2018 → 31 March 2022
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Natural sciences
    • Carbohydrates
    • Regulation of metabolism
    • Genetics
    • Molecular and cell biology not elsewhere classified
    • Lipidomics
    • Metabolomics
  • Engineering and technology
    • Biocatalysis and enzyme technology
    • Fermentation
    • Industrial microbiology
    • Industrial molecular engineering of nucleic acids and proteins
    • Industrial biotechnology not elsewhere classified
omics analyses
Project description

Bio-degradable and bio-based surface-active agents are a renewable and environmentally friendly
alternative to petroleum derived or oleochemical surfactants. I will conduct research on the
innovative bola amphiphilic sophorolipids (bola SL) produced by Starmerella bombicola. These
molecules can be applied in cosmetics, pharma, nanotechnology,... Recent EU-funded research
demonstrated that there is a high market interest for bola SL but production cost is currently too
high to be economically sustainable and the productivity has the largest impact on the production
cost. Though process development already made some improvements, strain improvement will be
absolutely necessary. However, this development needs more fundamental in-depth information
about the biosynthesis of these molecules by Starmerella bombicola and its regulation. A
comparative multi omics approach will be used to unravel the effects of certain genes and
compounds that have an impact on the productivity. Genome and transcriptomic analysis will be
conducted with state-of-the-art sequencing techniques while the metabolome will be unraveled
with the aid of the expert team of Prof. Lynn Vanhaecke. A regulatory pathway model will be
constructed out of the multi omics data. This knowledge breakthrough will allow the fine-tuning of
SL producing strains. As proof-of-concept, a bola SL producing strain will be engineered to obtain a
4-fold productivity increase.