We have for several years been bioprospecting to identify interesting organisms, genes and biosynthetic pathways and to isolate and characterize active components.
Marine Biotechnology: Key competences, research areas and products
- Brown algae are an important national resource harvested along the Norwegian coast. Brown algae contain components such as proteins and the polysaccharides alginate, fucoidan and laminaran. Currently, alginate is the only commercial product obtained from brown algae. Alginate has a range of applications in industry, pharmacy and medicine. We are working together with important actors in the alginate market to improve the industrial processes for isolation and fractionation of brown algae to increase the yield and quality of alginate (Mar3Bio, MarPol). Additionally, it is important to develop processes that enable utilization of other valuable components like proteins (Promac).
- Chitosan a polysaccharide obtained among others from shrimp waste, also has many potential high-cost applications. We are working on improving the methods for biomass processing by combining chemical end enzymatic methods.
- Development of new biomaterials and products based on chitosan and alginate (Mar3Bio, MarPol).
- Marine Actionomycetes as a source for new antibiotics, anticancer compounds and other bioactives. We have collection of approx. 8500 actinomycetes collected in the Trondheim fjord. This collection has been screened for components displaying antibacterial, antifungal and anticancer activity, and novel active molecules have been identified. Based on these findings, new project have been funded were the goal is to commercialize novel compounds with antimicrobial and anticancer properties.
- Marine organisms producing unsaturated fatty acids is another research are at SINTEF. Through bioprospecting along the coast we have identified species of Thraustochytrids, a group of single-celled eukaryotic organisms, able to produce large amounts of omega-3 fatty acids. These organisms are now being further developed with the aim of commercial production of fatty acids for animal and fish feed (Thraustoeng).
- Another approach focused at SINTEF is the development of different pipelines for utilisation of genom/gene-sequence information obtained from environmental samples to discover and produce novel products. This activity includes both technology for isolation, sequencing and annotation, and for cloning and heterologous expression of genes and biosynthetic pathways in optimized super-hosts(functional metagenomics, systems and synthetic biology). This research is expected to have a large potential and future perspective as a source of new enzymes and novel bioactive small molecules.