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.

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 Deinococcus bacteria, in applications where Deinococci show high affinity and where there is a promising market with sustained demand.


DEINOCHEM R&D programs


The isoprenoïds project

The project initially focused on identifying the most appropriate Deinococcus strains 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 and other aromatic compuonds 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 as antioxidant or as dyes. They also have cosmetic applications and can be used in ophtalmology for example.

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. 

The Isoprenoïds program 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

This milestone derives from the lab-scale production of several molecules of industrial interest from the isoprenoid pathway, with ongoing progress in yields, thanks to several steps of strain design and optimization.

Some of these isoprenoids, in particular the sub-family of carotenoids are produced naturally by the Deinococcus. These are shorter-term projects. Deinove has already started the production of several batches of Déinoxanthine – a carotenoid exclusively produced by Déinocoque - within POS Bio-Sciences facilities, its technology partner. This step will serve to validate the production processes and characterize the specific properties of Déinoxanthine in applications referred to commercialization.

The muconic acid project

In 2015, Deinove has launched a new R & D program dedicated to the production of muconic acid.

The muconic acid is an particularly demanded chemical intermediate whose derivatives - caprolactam, terephthalic acid (a precursor of PET) and adipic acid - are widely used in the plastics industry and the production of synthetic fibers (nylon). All of these products represent a global market of several tens of billions of dollars. Indeed, there is a significant demand for the production of bio-based compounds, for example in food grade plastics.

The R & D teams have managed to design, thanks to the powerful technology platform built by Deinove, a bacterium capable of producing this molecule. Within weeks the level of production was multiplied by 5, and proof of concept for the production of muconic acid was also obtained from cellulose, a second generation raw material. DEINOVE has initiated discussions with several industry players that may join the project.