Synthesised sugars for biomanufacturing set to reduce impact on agriculture

15 February 2024 | Muriel Cozier

Development of non-natural sugars is expected to expand the use of biomanufacturing

Researchers from Osaka University, Japan, have developed a biomanufacturing technology which they say can use synthesised non-natural sugars as raw materials in a range of production processes. This development could reduce the need for sugars based on biomass for use in industrial applications.

Chemical sugar synthesis has a number of benefits compared with using agricultural sources, including the reduced need for water, land and nutrients. In addition, the sugars can also be produced on-site and at a high rate. However, the synthesised sugars are mixtures that contain many compounds and structures that do not exist in nature. This is where the challenges have arisen in using synthesised non-natural sugars in bioprocessing, the research team says.

Publishing their work in ChemBioChem the researchers, along with collaborating partners, say that this is the first time globally that biomanufacturing has been carried out using synthesised sugar as a feedstock.

The bacteria Corynebacterium glutamicum was used as a model bacterium to set up a stable cultivation method using the chemically synthesised sugar as a substrate. The researchers also identified inhibitory factors in the synthesised sugar solution but demonstrated that they could be removed by secondary catalytic treatment. The researchers also found that by conducting fermentation under oxygen-limited conditions, they were able to produce lactate by fermentation using a synthesised sugar solution as the sole substrate.

This development, says the research team, is expected to solve the problem of raw material supply in biomanufacturing.

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