Tuesday, 29 June 2021 10:07

Kick-off meeting of the European project PROMICON

Kick-off meeting of PROMICON, a European project for improving the predictability and exploitation of the amazing capacities of natural and synthetic microbial consortia for the biosynthesis of industrially-relevant products

The PROMICON project (Harnessing the power of nature through productive microbial consortia in biotechnology – measure, model & master), a new project from the final EU Horizon 2020 program calls coordinated by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ; Leipzig, Germany) was launched with an online kick-off event on 17th & 18th of June 2021. CSIC participates in this Research and Innovation Action (RIA), which is granted with a total of € 6 million. Work on this project at the National Centre for Biotechnology (CNB) will be directed by Dr. Juan Nogales, head of the Systems Biotechnology Group, and work at the Margarita Salas Centre for Biological Research (CIB-MS) will be directed by Dr. Eduardo Díaz, head of the Environmental Microbiology Group. The PROMICON project is a collaboration of 2 universities, 3 research centres, 4 industrial partners, and 1 association from 7 countries (Bulgaria, Germany, Portugal, The Netherland, Sweden, Switzerland, and Spain). 

The deliberate control of complex microbiomes is difficult and current approaches are often guided by simple trial-and-error. The PROMICON project will learn from nature how microbiomes function through development and application of quantitative physiology, imaging, cell sorting, machine learning, and systems biology. This will be used to steer existing microbiomes towards production and to generate new synthetic microbiomes inspired by nature through an iterative design-build-test-learn cycle. The new consortia will also contain strains developed through systems metabolic engineering and will be used for the production of energy carriers, drop-in chemical feedstock, and advanced biomaterials.

PROMICON will advance characterization tools to understand which strains (modules) are needed for a successful microbiome. It will identify the primary producers (farmers), secondary converters (labourers) and essential strains for microbiome stability (balancers). This knowledge will be used to reduce complexity of natural microbiomes for optimized production of phycobiliprotein based pigments, exo-polysaccharides (EPS) and polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) in a top-down approach. On the other hand, synthetic microbiomes with increasing complexity (bottom-up approach) will be assembled for the production of butanol, H2 and PHACOS, a functionalized antimicrobial polyester. Additionally, PROMICON will develop new bioreactor concepts and downstream processing for the target products, and will conduct early-stage life cycle assessment (LCA) to prepare exploitation.

This ground-breaking project will not only inspire completely new production pathways and a paradigm shift from monocultures to mixed cultures in biotechnology, but also has the potential beyond biotechnology to inspire novel treatment options in biomedicine.

More information at: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/101000733

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