Biotechnological potential of selected microorganisms from Sečovlje Saltpans for application in cosmetics products
Project leader: Dr Ana Rotter
Partners: AlgEn, algal technology centre, Limited Liability Company,
Soline, Limited Liability Company
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology,
University of Ljubljana, Faculty of Pharmacy.
Duration: 1.10.2022 - 30.09.2025
Blue Growth (BG) and sustainable blue strategy, including Marine (blue) biotechnology (MBT), are the long-term strategies to support sustainable growth. The global market for MBT has the potential to reach €5.5 Billion by 2025 and Europe is recognised as a high-potential region with largely unexplored marine resources. Since the global population`s median age increases, and as people of all ages are interested in maintaining healthy appearance, the dermo-cosmetical market increasingly expands and is predicted to double in the next 10 years. Substances of animal origin and products of organic synthesis are unfavourable in dermo-cosmetical products; therefore, their isolation from marine microorganisms is of high commercial and industrial importance. Algae are recognized as an important renewable source of natural bioactive substances with reportedly beneficial skin effects, such as UV-protection and treatment of aged skin.
Dunaliella, Phaeodactylum and Porphyridum are the only marine microalgal species that have been studied and used in commercial applications. Since new developments in the high-throughput techniques have enabled the discovery of new promising microorganisms, their identification and compounds therein remains a scientific challenge and opportunity for their valorisation.
The overall objective of the proposed research is to develop the procedure to enhance the production of the known and novel compounds of high biotechnological value from selected microorganisms in Sečovlje Saltpans to be used as ingredients in cosmetic products. Specific objectives are:
(1) Assessment of microbial biodiversity of Sečovlje saltpans to provide basis for future work on characterization of species with biotechnological potential;
(2) Optimization of microbial growth of the selected microorganisms and optimized biosynthesis of selected compounds, including operation of small- and pilot-scale cultivation ponds and biomass harvesting;
(3) Optimization of the extraction and purification protocols of bioactive compounds with a biotechnological potential;
(4) Prototype production of a new cosmetics line based on isolated ingredients from the microbial biomass.
The project consortium will be composed of three scientific partners: National Institute of Biology (NIB) as leading research organization, University of Ljubljana Faculty of Chemistry and Chemical Technology (FKKT), and Faculty of Pharmacy (FFA) as participating research organizations and two co-founding organizations from the business sector, AlgEn (Algal Technology Centre) and Soline (Salt Production Company). All the partners involved have proven expertise, human resources and infrastructure available for an efficient project execution. Project team members are experts in high-throughput molecular methods, statistical design and analysis of experiments, network analysis, marine chemistry (NIB); algal growth technologies (Algen), biochemistry and molecular biotechnology (FKKT), expertise in using compounds, naturally present in Sečovlje Saltpans in the cosmetic products (Soline) and cosmetic product development and evaluation (FFA). Moreover, the consortium will consist of researchers of varying seniority levels to allow for an efficient transfer of knowledge.
We believe this project will develop the pilot pipeline needed for establishing the first actual MBT production in Slovenia and our results will represent tangible outputs that could be ready for future exploitation. This project will efficiently bridge the gap between applied scientific discovery, methodology development and industrial take-up and product finalization. To the best of our knowledge, this ambitious and integrated approach targeting the applications in cosmetics (and other areas) has never been conducted in Slovenia or the neighbouring regions.