3,5 billion years of R&D
To survive the early ages of our planet Deinococcus bacteria have developed unique genetic and metabolic capabilities. These properties allow them to survive in today's most hostile environments but also produce a variety of compounds from biomass components that other organisms do not know how to use.
Already present on earth 3.5 billion years ago, the Deinococcus bacteria are spherical in appearance and are less than 5 microns in diameter. In the mature state, they are in the form of four contiguous pink-red cells because of their richness in carotenoids.
Courtesy of Dr. Michael Daly, USIHS, New York.
The Deinococcus bacteria are survivors as they have learned to resist radiation, oxidation, heat, drought and cold. For example, D.radiodurans is 50 times more resistant to ionizing radiation than E.coli.
Most of these attacks have one thing in common: they damage DNA. Result, the bacterial chromosome breaks into hundreds of fragments. But while in all other organisms such breaks are irreversible, the Deinococci are able to reassemble these fragments into their genome with near perfect fidelity.
In 2006, the team of Professor Miroslav RADMAN discovered the genetic mechanisms that allow Deinococcus to be "resurrected". For this, the bacterium utilizes multiple copies of its genome (some bacteria contain up to 9 copies of their chromosome!) and uses a repair mechanism of unprecedented simplicity and ingenuity. Following the attack, chromosomes are cut into fragments signal triggering the activation of the repair system of the bacteria: the chromosomes are replenished in a few hours and the bacteria is viable again.
Deinococci: a natural source of industrial products
The Deinococci feature another property that can also be found in other bacteria, but they have developed it at a hitherto unknown scale: they are able to borrow genes from other organisms such as bacteria, yeasts or plants and to sustainably integrate them in their genome, thus multiplying their capabilities.
With this tremendous genetic plasticity, the Deinococci are not only able to withstand the harshest conditions but also can be modified to develop the ability to produce rare compounds (chemical intermediates, enzymes, ethanol, new antibiotics...) from biomass components other organisms do not know how to exploit.
DEINOVE has 6,000 strains of this unique bacterial genus.
This varietal diversity is a major asset for the success of DEINOVE’s R&D programs. The Deinococcus are indeed able to produce an extremely wide range of compounds of interest to the industry. For each potential application, DEINOVE selects and optimizes the wild strain as close as possible to the desired properties and optimizes it thanks to its metabolic engineering platform.
The Deinococcus micro-factory: “all-in-one” industrial process with proven benefits
In deciphering the genetics of Deinococcus and in generating the first molecular tools that allow their optimization, Miroslav RADMAN has paved the way for the industrial exploitation of these bacterial micro-factories.
Bacterial chassis developed by DEINOVE offer key advantages for industrial purpose:
- They are very robust, resistant to high temperatures and strong toxic concentrations (notably furfural, HMF and other aldehydes generated during the biomass pretreatment process), allowing significant savings in terms industrial process and energy consumption.
- They are capable of , all in one step, degrading complex organic material in single carbon compounds, which is quite an achievement, and then ferment the carbon molecules to produce alcohol or other molecules, depending on expected result. Both types of sugars derived from biomass, hexoses (C6) and pentoses (C5) are fermented simultaneously, thus increasing the final yield of the process.
- Deinococcus-based production processes substantially reduce the addition of costly enzymes and replace yeasts, which are used in most of existing fermentation processes.
- They also remove a step in the production process since degradation and fermentation are carried out jointly. This type of consolidated bioprocess (CBP) is a huge competitive advantage for manufacturers.
With Deinococcus, DEINOVE offers a solution both competitive and straightforward to implement that can be rolled out in existing facilities.
« Deinococcus as new chassis for industrial biotechnology: biology, physiology and tools » in the Journal of Applied Microbiology (JAM).