DEINOCHEM: all the potential of Deinococcus for green chemistry

Associating the untapped potential of Deinococcus with the performance of DEINOVE metabolic and fermentation engineering platform opens an extremely wide range of applications for green chemistry.

The DEINOCHEM program

The DEINOCHEM programme aims to produce a new generation of chemical compounds which can be substituted for those that are traditionally petro-sourced. Using Deinococcibacteria, these new chemical compounds are made from non-food biomass such as wheat straw, corn stover and cobs, energy crops, and industrial and urban waste.

DEINOVE’s objective is to offer high-performance and economical bio-production processes originating from biomass. These new processes will be based on the exploitation of Deinococcusbacteria, which is ideal for these types of developments: their natural expression of certain isoprenoids, their resistance to isoprenoid toxicity, and eventually their demonstrated capacity to render isoprenoids “hyperproducers” of a specific product of interest.

The isoprenoïds project

The project initially focused on identifying the most appropriate Deinococcusstrains to produce compounds of interest for its industrial partners and to develop the DEINOVE technological platform. An isoprenoid project was then launched in 2010 and approved by the cluster IAR (Industries and AgroResources)in 2011.

A large metabolic pathway for industrial biotechnology, isoprenoids are one of the largest families of natural substances in the world: more than 22,000 isoprene compounds have been listed. They are the object of many industrial applications, as they are found in polymers (e.g. isoprene rubber) as well as animal feed, cosmetic creams, fragrances, detergents, and in some anti-cancer agents.

Isoprenoids are mainly extracted from plants or produced by chemical synthesis but suffer from low yields and high production costs.

DEINOVE has chosen to focus on three broad categories of isoprenoid compounds:

  • Linalool, geraniol, myrcene, limonene or lycopene, currently produced from turpentine (obtained from resinous sap or softwood pulp) or petroleum derivatives. These highly aromatic compounds are used in perfumes, cosmetics or household products... and also in pharmaceuticals, for example for the synthesis of certain vitamins.
  • Carotenoids are pigments that may appear yellow to red in colour. They are present in a large number of plants and actively participate in the process of photosynthesis. They are used in food and animal feed for their antioxidant powers. They are also used as dyes in the food industry but also in ophthalmology, for example.
  • Isoprene is the simplest isoprenoid. It is mainly used for the production of tires (synthetic rubber), and a variety of coating materials as well as in adhesives.

Globally, these components represent significant and growing markets, at sometimes very high prices. In addition, the demand for bio-based components is increasing in all fields. Several biotech players are already present in these segments.

DEINOCHEM is supported by Ademe and the CGI in the framework of the “Investing for the Future” State program

In September 2013, DEINOVE's Deinochem project was granted with a funding of €5.9 million. This is the most important funding to date by the State in this area. This funding is part of the « Investments for the Future » Program. DEINOVE responded to the call for projects on bio-based chemistry initiated by the Ademe – the French Environment and Energy Management Agency, and the CGI – General Investment Commission.

The project presented by DEINOVE is to obtain a proof of concept for the production of isoprenoid chemical compounds from biomass through deinotechnologies. It represents a total investment of €16 million, mainly in the form of personnel costs, investment in advanced equipment and research services from subcontractors. It is planned to bring at least 2 isoprenoid compounds to a pre-industrial validation phase within 3 and a half years.

The first milestone of DEINOCHEM project has been passed in January 2015 and DEINOVE received €1 million, as agreed with Ademe. See the press release