Fermentation Technology

Fermentation technology encompass a broad field, but within this profile we target the use of microorganisms and/or enzymes for production of compounds that find application in the energy, chemical, material, pharmaceutical and the food sector. Even though fermentation processes have been used for generations, the requirement for sustainable production of energy and materials is demanding innovation and development of novel fermentation concepts. Our efforts are directed both to the development of cell factories and enzymes as well as of design of novel process concepts and technologies for fermentation processes.
We have a strong infrastructure with a large number of state-of-the-art fermentors as well as a strong accompanying analytical platform that allows for careful analysis of fermentation products as well as intracellular metabolites and whole genome analysis. Furthermore, we also have a platform for enzyme discovery and heterologous production of target enzymes.
 
Biofuels and biochemicals
In this field we are studying and developing cell factories for production of biofuels (bioethanol, biobutanol, biodiesel) and biochemicals (3-hydroxypropionic acid and ethylene). A common challenge for these cell factories is the requirement of high yield and productivity to make the potential production cost effective and competitive with petroleum based production. An efficient cell factory requires many rounds of metabolic engineering as well as carefully designed and optimized fermentation process. We are primarily using yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, as cell factory.
Research groups involved:
• Lisbeth Olsson, Professor
• Jens Nielsen, Professor
• Christer Larsson, Professor
• Maurizio Bettiga, Forskarassistent
 
Biopharmaceuticals and nutraceuticlas
A unique property of living cells is that they can produce complex chemicals and proteins. Such products are very difficult, or even impossible, to produce through chemical synthesis. Even though yield and productivity are of importance, the titers (final product concentration) and product quality is of outmost importance. In this field we study the production of heterologous proteins (biopharmaceutical proteins like insulin and hemoglobin), and in this context we study the secretion process, i.e. the process from the expression system to the secreted proteins. We are also producing different nutraceuticals and other complex molecules such as folates, cancer preventative selenocompounds and isoprenoids.
Research groups involved:
• Jens Nielsen, Professor
• Lisbeth Olsson, Professor
• Tomas Andlid, Docent
 
Enzyme technology
In the field of enzyme technology we are in particular focusing on enzymes that can degrade and/or modify plant cell wall polymers. Our activities span from enzyme discovery, cloning and expression and enzyme characterization. We are in particular interested in the capacity of filamentous fungi to produce a palette of enzymes and how the enzyme production responds to the growth conditions (carbon source). A particular challenge in using enzyme on plant cell wall polymers are that they work on solid substrates, which lead to rate-limitation in enzyme action.
We also have a focused interest in carbohydrate esterases and their use in biosynthetic reactions. We are studying these enzymes in detail using both computational and experimental tools.
Research groups involved:
• Lisbeth Olsson, Professor
 
Biorefineries
An important motivation for fermentation processes is that they may become a key component in a biobased economy. Our major focus of using sustainable raw materials for the fermentation processes are to develop processes using plant cell wall material from the agricultural and forestry sectors including waste and side streams. Using these streams, leads to a number of challenges with respect to its complex composition, in particular inhibitory compounds present in the streams. We work on understanding and improving robustness of yeast strains to make them more suited to ferment efficiently in plant cell wall material derived streams.  Furthermore, we work on different process concepts, within the frame of biorefinieries that aim at optimally using the enzymes and/or microorganisms capacity for a production of the targeted product.
Research groups involved:
• Lisbeth Olsson, Professor
• Carl Johan Franzén, Docent
• Christer Larsson, Professor
• Jens Nielsen, Professor