Seed Fund: Carotenoid cleaving enzymes for efficient biosynthesis of Saffron

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In a recent report, novel carotenoid cleaving dioxygenases CCD2 were identified which can cleave zeaxantin at position 7,8 thus enabling novel biocatalytic synthesis routes to saffron which is one of the most expensive spices on earth. The price is about two to seven Euros per gram with 6 milligram yield per plant and ~300 tons production worldwide per year. The seed fund project BioSAF aims to identify novel carotenoid cleaving dioxygenases and to explore the biotechnological production of saffron. The renewable plant commodity product zeaxanthin serves as starting material which is typically harvested together with lutein as a formulation from Marigold. Algae can also be used to produce zeaxanthin in large quantities and former Cognis, now BASF, as a key manufactureris located in NRW. In summary, the seed fund proposal BioSAF matches the central BioSC theme to produce valuable products from natural resources like Marigold or algae. In case of success, this project would represent a showcase for a BioSC process feasibility study with the potential for a business case.

The scientific activities of the Bioeconomy Science Center were financially supported by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Resesarch within the framework of the NRW Strategieprojekt BioSC (No. 313/323‐400‐002 13).