Scientists have developed new strategies for the production of high-value unsaturated fatty acids

Whole-cell catalytic strategy for converting low-value lipids into high-value lipids using microorganisms such as microalgae and yeast Energy provided

Unsaturated fatty acids are important functional high-value fatty acids, such as DHA, EPA, ARA, omega-7, etc., which are widely used in medicine, nutritional food, health care products and feed fields. At present, the consumption of edible oils and fats in China alone has reached about 35 million tons, but the content of functional high-level unsaturated fatty acids in these oils and fats is extremely low. With the implementation of China’s national health strategy, the prevention and control of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases such as hypertension, hyperlipidemia, fatty liver, atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases by improving the quality and content of unsaturated fatty acids in China’s edible oils and fats has become an important goal of food and nutrition development under China’s national health strategy.

The use of microalgae culture or microbial fermentation is the main way to produce these high-value fatty acids. However, the yield of microalgae photosynthetic culture is low and not easy to scale, and the use of microbial fermentation of glucose production, the oil yield of glucose is not high, resulting in the production of these high-value unsaturated fatty acids, sugar consumption and high cost. So can we use bioengineering methods to convert low-value fatty acids and oils such as traditional edible oils, animal fats and even waste food and beverage oils into high-value unsaturated fatty acids and oils?

For a long time, the microalgae biotechnology research group led by Liu Tianzhong, a researcher at the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Process Technology of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, has been committed to the biosynthesis of microalgae/microbial oils. Recently, in the study of heterotrophic fermentation of oil-producing yellow silk algae, the research group found that yellow silk algae can absorb and use various types of fatty acids added by foreign sources as precursors for its intracellular fatty acid synthesis, and transform them into various saturated and unsaturated fatty acids through desaturation and carbon chain extension, thereby significantly improving the oil content and unsaturated fatty acid yield of heterotrophic yellow silk algae.

According to the research group, when the exogenous addition of myristic acid (C14:0), through multi-scale fermentation regulation optimization, the fat content of heterotrophic yellow silk algae cells increased from about 20% to nearly 50%, of which 30% of the exogenous added carawayic acid was converted into omega-7, EPA, DHA and so on by algae cells. When soybean oil is added from an exogenous source, a similar conversion effect can also be produced. The research team has also recently applied this strategy to the heterotrophic fermentation of other oil-producing microalgae such as chlorella and gravis, which have greatly improved their oil content and the yield of target fatty acids.

The research results were recently published in biotechnology and bioengineering, a well-known journal in the field of biochemical engineering. The use of this technology is expected to provide a new way for the high-value utilization of a large number of waste catering oils and fats in China, and greatly reduce the production cost of high-value fatty acids.

The above work has been funded by the National Natural Science Foundation of China, the Natural Science Foundation of Shandong Province, and the Joint Fund of Qingdao Institute of Energy and Dalian Institute of Chemicals. (Source: China Science Daily, Liao Yang, Liu Jia)

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