BOKU Vienna: Conversion of CO2 into animal feed

Thomas Gaßler and Michael Egermeier, PhD-students at the Department of Biotechnology, received FFG Spin-Off Fellowship for the implementation of their project "CarboFeed" with Prof. Diethard Mattanovich.

Climate change, global nutrition situation and the loss of biodiversity - three major global issues which mean a challenge and responsibility for all of us. Against this background, the project team wants to produce feed additives that meet the requirements of sustainable production within the framework of this project. The aim of "CarboFeed" is to tap CO2 as an additional and sustainable resource for the production of yeast biomass.

This novel yeast biomass can be generated in a CO2 neutral way and will be further applied as high value feed additive. A sufficient content of protein in animal feed is regularly ensured by the addition of soy based supplements. The production of these supplements negatively contributes to climate change. Within the "CarboFeed" project, Thomas Gaßler and Michael Egermeier together with Prof. Diethard Mattanovich will create yeast strains which can incorporate CO2 into the carbon backbone of their biomass. Based on these strains, a commercial process for the sustainable enrichment of biomass will be developed in the project.

The synthetic way for the incorporation of CO2 into yeast biomass has been designed and verified during the past 3 years by the researchers. The native pathway of methanol assimilation of the yeast Pichia pastoris was re-wired to a CO2 fixation pathway resembling the Calvin cycle. The Calvin cycle is the most predominant CO2 fixation pathway for autotroph organisms in nature, like all plants. Based on these findings, a novel yeast technology will be developed within the "CarboFeed" project which uses CO2 for the enrichment of biomass.

The financing model "Spin-Off Fellowship" provided by the Austrian Research Promotion Agency (FFG) enables researchers to get ready for translation of their start-up ideas in the best possible way. Within the up to 18 months fellowship time, the researchers or "fellows" can fully concentrate on the technical development of their ideas. Further the fellows can profit from a broad offer of training, coaching and mentoring.

Thomas Gaßler and Michael Egermeier together with Prof. Diethard Mattanovich will start in April, 2019 into the new 18 months project. The application process was kindly accompanied by the Knowledge and Technology Transfer Team of BOKU.

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