Project title: The exploitation of Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous as a sustainable platform for the PROduction of high-value CARotenoids (PROCAR)
Project duration: 36 months
Total project costs: €2.1 million
Most of the colours in the natural world are due to the presence of compounds known as carotenoids. These natural pigments have been used by human civilisations for millennia and exploited by industry as colourants, health and dietary supplements.
Two carotenoids in particular are in high demand; zeaxanthin and phytoene. It's estimated that the global market for the former will reach $334 million by 2018.This is associated with its use as a treatment and preventative measure against Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a chronic eye disorder that accounts for over half of all cases of blindness in western societies.
Phytoene is a colourless carotene used as a bioactive ingredient in the rapidly expanding cosmetic industry. Its beneficial activities include protection against Ultraviolet and oxidative damage, which lead to premature ageing and other phenomena.
Presently chemical synthesis is used to produce these pigments/compounds. However with the advent of new technologies, naturally occuring microbial production is a competitive sustainable alternative to plant and chemical-based production. This approach does not compete with land resources for food production or impact on our dwindling sources of fossil fuel. In the PROCAR project, state-of-the-art technologies will be used to develop the red yeast Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous as a renewable source of natural zeaxanthin and phytoene to meet the demands of the European consumer.