SynBio4Flav: a groundbreaking shift in flavonoid production

This short animation describes the aim of the SynBio4Flav project, including how the project applies new methods to manufacture flavonoids. CNB-CSIC leads SynBio4Flav, a H2020 project that uses smart biotech to deliver sustainable production of flavonoids.

Music Credit: Conspiracy Theories by Jean-Pol Cornelius

The questions below can further elucide some of the factors, methods and mechanisms at play in the SynBio4Flav project.

What are biosynthetic pathways?
All organisms synthesize substances that they need for their survival by converting simple compounds into more complex compounds. The conversion happens in several steps, in sequences of reactions called biosynthetic or metabolic pathways. The conversion of simple compounds to more complex compounds requires energy and the presence of specific enzymes that enable the reactions.

What is a bioreactor?
A bioreactor is a vessel, in which biological processes can happen in a controlled way under favourable conditions. They are commonly used for the manufacturing of products that usually involve microorganisms. Bioreactor sizes can range from millilitres up to several cubic metres for application in industrial production. Traditional techniques that involve microbial activities such as brewing beer or the production of wine, are comparable to the bioactive processes in bioreactors.

What would be the benefits of flavonoid production in microbial bioreactor farms?
Microbial farms in bioreactors enable production under highly controlled conditions, for example under optimal temperature and with optimal feed for the microbes. It is considered a clean and efficient way of producing flavonoids instead of growing plants and extracting the small quantities of flavonoids the plants produce. The production can happen locally where flavonoids are needed, so cultivation and transport costs can be avoided. In addition, it represents an option for biological production of flavonoids by living organisms other than plants.

What is downstream processing in biotechnology?
The recovery and purification of substances from natural resources, as well as the disposal of waste and potential recycling of side products is comprised under the term downstream processing. These processes can be very cost-intensive, especially if the yieldable quantities are small, or if complex purification processes are required. The biological production performed by microorganisms in bioreactors under optimised conditions is expected to reduce downstream processing costs.