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Courtesy of Mike Allen and Steve Gschmeissner

PoC Round 2: Pilot-scale production of poly-γ-glutamic acid from algal by-products and its application in acidic drinks

Principle investigator: Iza Radecka
University of Wolverhampton

The ultimate goal of this proposal is to develop a new biorefinery system which builds upon a bacterial
biopolymer of poly-gamma glutamic acid (γ-PGA) produced by microbes capable to grow on inexpensive, ecosustainable feedstocks such as algal biomass (both micro- and macroalgae) resources, followed by transformation of the crude polymer into a highly valuable ‘hero’ product.

γ-PGA is an extracellular bacterial polymer that is produced by several members of the genus Bacillus. The polymer can be synthesised from GRAS organisms and thus it’s safe for human use & consumption.
Attractive properties of γ-PGA are that it is: water soluble, biodegradable, edible, versatile, and
environmentally friendly; which makes it of interest for applications in the fields of food, medicine, cosmetics, plastics, water treatment and agriculture. The chemical synthesis of γ-PGA is very expensive, and therefore unfeasible for the production of large amounts of the product. At present, bacterial fermentation using soy is the only practicable route for γ-PGA production at the industrial level, but the process in also expensive.
In this project we will trial different type of algal biomass after total lipid extraction as an alternative substrate for sustainable γ-PGA biosynthesis and we will investigate whether, the resulting biopolymer, can be used as effective additive to acidic drinks/food products in order to protect/prevent acid erosion of teeth. Foods and drinks, that are high in acids, destroy the enamel that protects teeth, affecting both the appearance and causative of cavities/infections. Produced hero product will be carefully analysed.

In this proof of concept (PoC) will aim to make algal research a reality for the production of this bio-based product in a sustainable manner in line with the principles of circular economy.