French agribusiness and biotech tie-up looks to develop bacteria derived feed additives

Copyright Deinove. Project aims to select bacteria strains that produce compounds such as natural carotenoids and enzymes

Exploiting the potential of bacteria to produce natural feed additives is the aim of a new partnership between two French companies - animal nutrition and agribusiness group, Sofiproteol, and biotechnology firm, Deinove.

The two are teaming up to determine if feed additives with nutritive or pigmentation value can be generated through a process whereby bacteria strains from Deinove’s large strain bank are selected, compounds are produced and tested, and their benefits for animal health are qualified.

Manipulating bacteria in this way is completely innovative, and, after months of discussions, a collaborative project is finally getting underway.

It is being run on a pilot level for the next three years, by which stage we should be able to assess its viability for industrial scale-up," Anne Bourdillon, director of innovation for the animal nutrition division of Sofiproteol, told feednavigator.

The companies said the work of both partners in the initiative is complementary – with Deinove bringing its expertise in the economically viable production of additives from bacterial micro-factories, and Sofiproteol lending the project its feedstock selection proficiency in tandem with its knowledge of the livestock market and associated regulations.

“We will be using wild type bacterial strains for the feed additives project, as we are aiming to meet the growing demand, particularly in Europe, for natural inputs in food and feed,” said CEO of Deinove, Emmanuel Petiot.

Library of bacteria strains

One of the core strengths of the Montpellier headquartered biotechnology company, said the CEO, is that it has a large platform to work from - its library contains 6,000 irrigation derived bacteria strains.

The firm says it is exploiting the genetic and metabolic potential of Deinococcus, a bacterium with unusual robustness and singular genetic properties that can be modified to produce rare compounds from non-food biomass components that other organisms cannot exploit.

“A lot of biotechnology companies only have half a dozen or no more than 10 strains to work from, and they are typically derived from Escherichia coli or Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

We have significant gene diversity to leverage – it is just matter of selecting the strains that are capable of producing compounds such as natural carotenoids, enzymes, and vitamins for feed usage,” said Petiot.

The CEO told us it has taken five years to "properly structure" its 6,000 heavy strain bank, but that re-organization has resulted in much more efficient strain selection by researchers carrying out R&D applications.

Once the proof of concept is established, the candidate laboratory strain is tested in pilot fermenters to optimize culture conditions and then the next stage is pilot scale production.

“The whole process has a low carbon footprint and is really cost effective as compounds can be manufactured using agriculture residues such as wheat straw or corn stover,” added Petiot.

Bourdillon said the partners will initially target the global monogastric and aquaculture sectors with any bacteria derived additives that result. "But we would look to explore their use in ruminants eventually," she said.  

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