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Novel Polysaccharide Modifying Enzymes to Optimise the Potential of Hydrocolloids for Food and Medical Applications (PolyModE)
Start date: 01 May 2009, End date: 30 Apr 2013 PROJECT  FINISHED 

The PolyModE project convenes an international, interdisciplinary, and intersectorial consortium to identify, characterise, and optimise novel polysaccharide modifying enzymes, and to develop robust fermentation strategies for their large-scale production, to exploit the potential of biopolymers for food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic, and technical applications. We have selected the six complex carbohydrates with the highest current market share or expected future market potential, namely alginate, carrageenan, chitosan, glycosaminoglycan, pectin, and xanthan gum. For each of these, the industrial partners have identified those enzymes which will answer to the most pressing needs or offer the most promising potential for improved production of polysaccharides with novel physico-chemical properties and biological functionalities. Primary targets will be alginate epimerases, carrageenan sulfatases, chitosan de-acetylases, glycosaminoglycan sulfatases, pectin de-acetylases, and xanthan gum de-acetylases. These enzymes together with secondary target enzymes, e.g. sequence specific lyases and hydrolases, will allow the generation and analysis of polymers and oligomers with novel, non-random patterns of modification. Two parallel approaches will be followed for each type of polysaccharide modifying enzyme, namely a knowledge-based genomic approach and a broad, un-biased metagenomic approach, e.g. using soil or sludge samples with a history of contact with the polysaccharide in question. A pipeline of three levels of fermentation systems will be established, ranging from lab-scale innovative expression systems with features shaped according to the specific characteristics of our target enzymes, through medium-scale, novel and unusual fermentation systems provided by a number of SME with highly specialised knowledge and expertise in developing and using such systems, to the established large-scale fermentation systems and facilities of market leaders in White Biotechnology.
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