Precision Fermentation Technology
What is precision fermentation?
Precision fermentation aims to produce specific end-products using genetically modified microorganisms such as yeast or bacteria. These microorganisms need to be tailored using cutting-edge genetic design tools to produce high-value compounds like proteins. Strain engineering is also utilized for improved expression of the desired protein inside the cell using different expression vectors or host strains.
Precision fermentation process
Precision fermentation is used in both biopharmaceutical and food industries and uses the most up to date process technologies. Once the optimized cell strains have been engineered to express the protein of interest, precision fermentation takes place in bioreactors to enable a good process reproducibility and larger quantities of cells. This controlled system is required to have a robust control of the metabolic pathways needed for an optimal end-product production: from cell multiplication up to a desired concentration to product construction inside the cells and potential secretion to the growth medium.
After fermentation, an efficient downstream processing needs to take place to optimize the overall protein yield process. Different operations, having each of them different possibilities and technologies, are involved and implemented in the industry to improve product recovery, purity and concentration: clarification, (dia)filtration, purification. Downstream processing ends with quality control and product packaging.
Precision fermentation in AgriFood
From an agri-food perspective, precision fermentation is a sustainable technology used in alternative protein industry that uses microorganisms as cell factories to generate very specific and high-value ingredients. It is one of the ways the agri-food industry makes use of fermentation, together with traditional fermentation and biomass fermentation.
Precision fermentation produces compounds as different as proteins, fats, flavors, or vitamins. All these mentioned compounds provide the desired functionalities or sensorial attributes when integrated in final products as ingredients. Having a rigorous control of the parameters affecting cell metabolism enables a consistent and efficient high-quality ingredient formation.
This technology is well known since it allows the production of identical animal-origin proteins without the need of the animal. This has an important environmental impact since the resources required to produce one gram of protein (land use, water) are drastically reduced, as well as the ecological footprint
Examples of food proteins that can be produced via precision fermentation are brazzein or soy leghemoglobin.
Brazzein is a protein originally contained in the pulp tissue around the seeds of the African fruit oubli (Pentadiplandra brazzeana). This fruit, which is indigenous to West Africa, is known in the region due to its sweetness, caused mainly by the presence of brazzein.
The monomer protein, having a molecular weight of 6.5 kDa and 54 amino acid residues, is the smallest of the sweet proteins. It was discovered that specific residues, the C–terminus plus the charge of the protein contribute to the protein’s sweet flavor and the interaction with the sweet taste receptors.
LEVPROT has developed brazzein via precision fermentation and has confirmed the following characteristics via a technological partner:
- it is 1.500 to 2.000 times sweeter than sucrose.
- it has a similar sweet profile to the one from sucrose.
- its high solubility (stable over a broad pH range from 2.5 to 8).
- it is heat-stable at 100°C for 2 hours.
In addition to this, brazzein, due to its nature, does not have an impact on blood glucose levels (low glycemic index) and, in contrast to most proteins, does not have bitter aftertaste. All the features described above make brazzein an especially interesting protein within the food industry.
Considering the future prospections over world’s population potentially leading to climate and food crisis, society is nowadays more aware than ever of the need to look for alternative and more efficient food sources. A transition to a more sustainable food system, minimizing the intake of resource-demanding products seems to be one of the main solutions. In this context, soy leghemoglobin provides a meatier flavor to plant-based products, improving its sensory attributes and consumer experience.
Soy leghemoglobin is a heme protein generated within the root nodules, formed in some leguminous plants after being colonized by Rhizobium (nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria). Examples of these plants are alfalfa or soybeans. This protein is structurally similar to myoglobin and its function is to absorb and deliver oxygen to the plant mitochondria for respiration.
The widespread use of soy leghemoglobin is directly linked to its functionality, being present in several products like plant-based burgers.
Precision fermentation in in vitro diagnostics
Biopharma and in-vitro diagnostics
In Biopharma and in-vitro diagnostics sector, precision fermentation takes drug manufacturing production to the next level, permitting a concrete developing, more natural and effective.
Specialist in services of recombinant protein production
In Levprot Bioscience, we have a wide experience in protein expression in yeast, reaching high expression yields. Our know-how involves all the steps to obtain the final product considering the requirements given by our costumers: from the initial genetic design to final product characterization, including process optimization. Thus, we offer a complete development service including all these steps, but also individual steps according to your requests. Contact us and let us know how we can help you.