New enzymes from the deep Mediterranean

evocatal develops new biocatalysts from extreme marine environments

Sampling from submarine hydrothermal vents close to Milos Island, Greece
© MAMBA-Project

As the industry partner in the international project ‘Marine Metagenomics for New Biotechnological Applications’ (MAMBA), German enzyme company evocatal is contributing expertise and proprietary technologies within the framework of this programme for the identification of as yet undiscovered enzymes from nature and their production using bacterial host organisms.

These biocatalysts are then made available for industrial applications in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, thereby aiding experts in their efforts to design more sustainable and effective production processes.

The scientists investigate biological diversity in marine environments and make it accessible for technological innovation. evocatal’s chances of discovering new, highly specialised enzyme activities are increased by the range of samples that will be taken from a variety of extreme environments. MAMBA’s focus is on unique ecosystems in the Mediterranean’s bathyal and abyssal zones, habitats that are marked by high salinity, extreme temperatures and pH-values, intense pressure and exceptional mineral composition, respectively.

‘It’s astonishing that microbes have been able to adapt to conditions in such hostile environments,’ says evocatal chief scientific officer Dr Christian Leggewie. ‘Discovering this diversity and using it for biotechnological purposes is not only fascinating, but exceedingly innovative as well.’

‘evocatal can use and market the identified enzymes,’ said Professor Peter N. Golyshin, University Bangor, Wales UK. ‘We really appreciate their ample experience and unique position on the market. ‘Ultimately, what we all want is to make use of the riches from yet undiscovered microbial enzymatic diversity.’

Financed by the European Commission’s FP7 Research Programme, the MAMBA project is a collaborative project to mine for and use new microbial activities, in particular for targeted production of fine chemicals, antioxidants and anticancer drugs. It runs for four years, until mid-2013 and brings together a total of 11 partners from Wales; Messina (Italy); Madrid (Spain); Banyuls, Bretagne, Boulogne (France); Toronto (Canada); and Bremen and Düsseldorf (Germany). The research performed by the participating universities is led and co-ordinated by Professor Golyshin.

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