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Strategies development for glycerol transformation: biotechnological and chemical routes

Abstract

Glycerol has many important features that may be useful for the industry in general (food, beverages, cosmetics and others). However, as a byproduct of biodiesel production, the amount may exceed the industry demand. This market saturation may result in a economical problem (low cost), and eventually an important environmental issue (as glycerol maybe discarded). Except if new technologies are developed in order to employ this excess. One potential important solution would be to produce a more valuable product from glycerol, as it is 3-hydroxypropinaldehyde (3-HPA) and 1,3 propanediol (1,3 PD). These chemical compounds may have many different uses, including food preservation, polymer production, and are also precursors of acrolein, acrylic acid. The conversion of glycerol to these compounds can potentially be obtained by a microbiological approach, but it needs to be optimized, as this pathway is found in few microrganisms, and, up to now, there is no clear result to industry. The identification and characterization of microrganisms with the desirable features may be an interesting alternative to achieve this goal. In this project, we propose to obtain a microbiological system with the potential of being efficient, and able to tolerate higher amounts of 3-HPA, or 1,3-PD. The main idea is to introduce the genes for the conversion of glycerol to 3-HPA or 1,3-PD found in Lactobacillus reuteri in the free living bacteria Caulobacter crescentus. The genes will be transferred in the appropriated vector for this bacteria, which is easily genetically manipulated, at a low cost. Moreover, an important aspect of this proposal is that, although Caulobacter has been intensively used for basic studies, the proposal for its use for biotechnological purposes is original and pioneer.Another approach will also be the transfer of these genes to the enterobacteria E.coli in specified pET vectors, in order to produce them in high amounts. Although E.coli presents its limitations, it has been widely used for the expression and purification of heterologous proteins. The activity of the enzymes will be measured using glycerol as substrate and identify and quantify the products (3-HPA and 1,3-PD) by HPLC. Another portion of this project is to promote a chemical transformation of glycerol to ionic liquids (IL), listed as green solvents and also known as molten salts, that are organic salts derived from the quartenization of nitrogen and phosphor. Some special features of these compounds are that they are liquid at room temperature and possess no gas pressure, and may act as chemical catalysts, especially during the production of pharmaceutical products. This project also include the application of biological reactors and fermentation processes of glycerol, with the goal to optimize the formation of products of interest ( 3-HPA and 1,3-PD). In particular it is important to emphasize that the biotechnology route will be responsible for most of our activities (60 to 70%) in this proposal, but it has a strong interdisciplinarity feature and it presupposes a close collaboration among researchers of three different fields: biotechnology, chemistry and chemical engineering. (AU)

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Scientific publications
(References retrieved automatically from Web of Science and SciELO through information on FAPESP grants and their corresponding numbers as mentioned in the publications by the authors)
MARTINS-PINHEIRO, MARINALVA; LIMA, WANESSA C.; ASIF, HUMA; OLLER, CLAUDIO A.; MENCK, CARLOS F. M. Evolutionary and Functional Relationships of the dha Regulon by Genomic Context Analysis. PLoS One, v. 11, n. 3 MAR 3 2016. Web of Science Citations: 5.

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