Industrial cell factories in collaboration with Brazil: Saccharomyces cerevisiae engineered for over-production of rhamnolipid, a biosurfactant

A project of University of Brasilia (Brazil) in collaboration with the group of Industrial Biotechnology.

Researchers: Maurizio Bettiga, Nádia Skorupa Parachin (, Gabriela Carneiro, Frederico Bahia

This project focuses on the key area of industrial biotechnology: the production of high added value molecules from renewable plant raw material. More specifically, the project aims at obtaining yeast strains that overproduce rhamnolipids.

Biosurfactants are amphipathic molecules originated from microbial sources. Among biosurfactants, rhamnolipids are the most intensively studied ones and to date the only biosurfactants that have been approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency for use in food, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Rhamnolipids are commonly produced by the bacterium Pseudomonas aeruginosa. Nevertheless, large-scale production with this bacterium is not considered a viable option since it is a pathogenic strain. Thus the present project proposes the construction of recombinant S. cerevisiae strains able to over-produce rhamnolipids.

The work is done in a collaboration between Chalmers and University of Brasilia, where Nádia Skorupa Parachin has initially conceived the idea and is supervising the research on this project.  A grant from the “Swedish Research Links” of the Swedish Research council “Ventenskapsrådet” is supporting the collaboration, allowing visiting students from Brazil to spend from 6 months to 1 year at the time in Gothenburg, besides exchange visits and the organisation of workshops and courses in Brasilia and Gothenburg. So far the students Gabriela Carneiro and Frederico Bahia have visited Gothenburg.

Published: Wed 08 Jul 2015. Modified: Tue 31 May 2016