Welcome to the website of the I3 Lab ''Novel Products from Marine Resources''

The challenges that our society is facing nowadays are enormous, including climate change, growing population, limited resources, decline of crude oil and energy supply. The development of sustainable processes will play a pivotal role in future developments, which must be based on the more efficient use of our planet’s resources aiming at the sustainable production of new bio-based materials and biopolymers for various applications. The successful transition from the crude oil era to a biobased economy will depend on the efficient conversion of biological resources by reliable and stable catalytic processes to produce novel products. This transition towards a sustainable economy completely relying on biotechnological processes requires the concerted action of academia, industry, politics and civil society. An interdisciplinary approach of various fields such as microbiology, molecular biology, chemistry, genetics, chemical engineering, agriculture, in addition to cross-sectional technologies such as economy, logistics and digitalization, is also necessary to meet the future global challenges. 

The post-genomic era has significantly contributed to the exploitation of nature’s biodiversity. The application of modern genetic techniques and sophisticated ‘‘omics’’ allows the production and identification of novel enzymes and microbial systems. Furthermore, new protein-engineering methods are clearing the way towards tailor-made biocatalysts. Applying environmentally friendly and efficient biological processes, terrestrial and marine biomass can be converted into high-value products such as chemicals, building blocks, biomaterials, pharmaceuticals, food, feed and biofuels. Thus, further application of novel biological systems will pave the path towards a greener bio-based industry. Besides terrestrial biomass, marine biomass, including micro- and macroalgae comprise a promising renewable feedstock due to their rich content in rare sugars, structural polysaccharides, proteins and unique polymers.

The major objective of this I3 Lab is the utilization of macroalgae as a sustainable resource of high-value products which have a great economic potential and can be used in biomedical, food, cosmetics and pharmaceutical applications.

Fucus vesiculosus

Nowadays, the utilization of marine biomass has become very attractive due to its advantageous characteristics (70 % of earth’s surface, origin of 80 % of all organisms and high biodiversity). The production yields per unit area of algae (22 kg/m2/year) are significantly higher than those of fast-growing agricultural plants (0.5-4.4 kg/m2/year). Macroalgae bear valuable components such as chlorophylls, starch, cellulose and other carbohydrates. They contain unique polysaccharides (alginate, laminarin, fucoidan, agar-agar, carrageenan), carotenoids (fucoxanthin), uronic acids and iodine, that represent high-value ingredients. Carrageenan, alginate and agar-agar are preferred gelling agents in the food industry and are used as building blocks for chemicals, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals. Fucoidan exhibits antitumoral, antiviral, antibiotic and antioxidative activity, whereas laminarin causes anticoagulation. To gain these intermediates, an efficient macroalgae biotransformation process will be developed. In addition, by using the complete biomass, a circular principle will be established without the generation of waste and with the production of a wide range of biobased products as alternative of those derived from fossil resources.