Fucoxanthin Upregulation through Combined Omics and Metabolically Improving Control Segments
The growing awareness towards health and disease prevention holds a great future globally for naturally derived nutraceuticals. This has led to a dramatic increase in demands of naturally synthesized carotenoids, particularly fucoxanthin. This golden-brown carotenoid is used as anti-oxidant, anti-cancer, anti-diabetic, and anti-obesity component making it a valuable product for nutraceutical and food industries. Diatoms, particularly Phaeodactylum, naturally synthesize fucoxanthin in high amounts as compared to their counterparts (seaweeds), making them one of the most promising candidates for sustainable fucoxanthin production. However, to exploit these diatoms for commercial fucoxanthin production, highly productive strains capable of growing at low operational costs along with a detailed understanding of the fucoxanthin biosynthesis pathway to steer conditions towards most favourable for high yields are imperative. To this end, FUCOMICS will develop an integrated omics pipeline (transcriptomics and proteomics) to gain insight into fucoxanthin synthesis and identify key regulatory elements/genes for enhancing fucoxanthin synthesis in the local Norwegian isolate Phaeodactylum tricornutum B58. Further, by utilizing Response Surface Methodology culture conditions will be optimized for maximum fucoxanthin synthesis. The identified key regulatory elements/genes will be validated by generating engineered strains of P. tricornutum B58 using the advanced CRISPR/Cas 9 technique. The results generated by FUCOMICS will not only be a starting step towards commercialization of microalgal fucoxanthin, but can also act as foundation for more difficult components, such as omega-3 fatty acids and biomass as whole. Furthermore, the fucoxanthin-extracted biomass, still rich in omega-3 fatty acids, can be utilized as feedstock for aquaculture, a major industry in Norway. As such, this project is in line with the EU strategy for the sustainable development of algae and aquaculture.