Industrial cell factories

​We provide society with the industrial cell factories needed for the realization of a new bio-based economy.

Ethanol fermentation plant

Participating researchers

Maurizio Bettiga, Docent-Researcher
Valeria Mapelli, Project Leader
Lisbeth Olsson, Professor, Head of Division
Cecilia Geijer, Post Doc
Veronica Saez Jimenez, Post Doc
Salvatore Fusco, Post Doc
Emma Karlsson, PhD Student
Lina Lindahl, PhD Student
Fredrico Bahia, Visiting Student
Jae Ho Shin, Project Assistant
Helén Olsson, Research Engineer

Obtaining efficient cell factories, able to produce new or traditional fuels and chemicals at high rates and yield is an imperative need for the transformation of human society as we see it in our vision: the bio-based economy, a society where renewable raw materials are used for sustainable production of chemicals, materials and fuels.
Today microorganisms are widely used in fermentation processes for production of bulk products and fine chemicals. Yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisae, is used for production of products ranging from small molecules like ethanol to production of pharmaceuticals like insulin and hepatitis A vaccine.

A number of currently oil-derived chemicals could be potentially replaced by molecules, obtained from renewable materials and produced by specifically designed cell factories. Within this research area we are working on the design of cell factories for the production of new products from renewable resources, such as adipic acid, phenolic compounds and biosurfactants.
In addition, we are working on developing industrial microorganisms with enhanced robustness properties. Robust microorganisms are able to withstand the harsh conditions encountered in industrial processes and thus result in higher yield and higher productivity. In some cases, such as second generation biofuels production, they can be one of the key steps towards process feasibility. As a general paradigm, approaches to change cellular traits to increase the robustness could aim at minimazing accumulation of compounds that are toxic to the cells intracellularly by decreasing the influx of the compound or by facilitating its efflux. Another approach is to minimize the harm made to the cells by toxic compounds, that could be achieved by either minimizing the damage to the cells or by enhancing the cells repair capacity.

Our strategies for increasing the robustness of industrial micro organisms include metabolic engineering for enhanced accumulation of protective metabolites, plasma membrane engineering and engineering conversion/detoxification capacity of the microorganisms. A complementary path is to use selected strains/clones with general features making them the best starting point for cell factory development.

Our “Robustness Paradigm”


Metabolic engineering of protective metabolites biosynthesis pathways: our way to reach extraordinary industrial strains robustness
Researchers: Christian Marx, Maurizio Bettiga

Bio-based production of adipic acid
Researcher: Emma Karlsson, Lisbeth Olsson, Valeria Mapelli

In this project the aim is to generate a microbial strain for biobased production of adipic acid (an important building block in the nylon industry) starting from renewable raw materials, such as forest residues.

Lignin bioconversion
Researcher: Salvatore Fusco, Maurizio Bettiga, Lisbeth Olsson and Carl Johan Franzén

This project is focused on studying mechanisms of inhibition of diverse phenolic compounds and the development of strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that possess increased tolerance to- and conversion capacity of- phenolic compounds. The aim of this project is to generate yeasts strains for the bioconversion of lignin-derived phenolic compounds to value-added products, while detoxifying lignocellulosic hydrolysates employed for second generation bioethanol production.

Engineering of yeast for increased acetic acid tolerance
Researcher: Lina Lindahl, Lisbeth Olsson, Maurizio Bettiga

Acetic acid present in lignocellulose raw material limits efficient microbial conversion. This project aims at improving acetic acid tolerance in S. cerevisiae by genetic engineering. 

Attractive non-GMO yeast for the bioethanol industry
Researchers: Cecilia Geijer, David Moreno

The purpose of this project is to characterize a novel, non-genetically modified (non-GMO) yeast species for lignocellulosic bioethanol production. 

Industrial cell factories in collaboration with Brazil: Saccharomyces cerevisiae engineered for over-production of rhamnolipid, a biosurfactant
Researchers: Maurizio Bettiga, Nádia Skorupa Parachin, Gabriela Carneiro, Frederico Bahia

This project proposal 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.

Published: Fri 05 Jun 2015. Modified: Thu 05 Jan 2017