The BacHBerry project will develop a portfolio of sustainable methodologies to mine the potential of the untapped biodiversity of the bioactive phenolic compounds in an extensive collection of berry species. It is a three-year collaborative project, which started November 1st, 2013. It is funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme for Research and Innovation (FP7) with a total budget of 9.5 million euros.

This project will address several major challenges with regard to discovery of new plant phenolics (in berry species) displaying bioactive properties of importance for pharma and food industries; their production in metabolically optimized GRAS bacterial hosts and the pre-commercial production of the high-value phenolics by scalable fermentation. To generate the sustainable pipeline of environmentally-friendly methods to enable production of pharma and agrochemical products with bioactive properties from berry fruits, the consortium has established the following technical and scientific goals:

By achieving these objectives, the consortium will be able to demonstrate the advantages of both the source of bioactive compounds and of the methodologies used, towards the development of chain of sustainable processes for large scale production of berry phenolics with high market demand.

Objective 1

Identification and characterization of phenolic contents in the extensive consortium germplasm collection.

Objective 2

Development of a public resource of genomic and metabolic data deriving from berry biodiversity in a collation of this as well as previous projects  to leverage the chemodiversity potential of active compounds in berry fruits.

Objective 3

Discovery of novel bioactivities and identification of functional compounds in the berry extracts.

Objective 4

Functional characterization of the genes and respective products (decorating enzymes, eg. P450s, glycosyltransferases, acetyltransferases) involved in the biosynthesis of the high-value phenolic compounds.

Objective 5

Provision of gene sequences encoding enzymes and transporters for the synthesis and export of the phenolics.

Objective 6

Construction of Gram-positive platforms for the production of phenolics by manipulation of the host metabolic networks.

Objective 7

Generation of bacterial cell factories for phenolics production by functional integration of heterologous pathways and flux balancing in the metabolically optimized bacteria.

Objective 8

Design and optimization of methods to extract high-value phenolics from fermentation broth to achieve purities according to European regulation 231/2012 for food and directive 2001/20/EC for pharmaceuticals.

Objective 9

Optimize and scale-up the production by fermentation of high-value phenolics up to pilot and demonstration scale. The bioactivity of phenolics produced by designer bacteria will be validated in the SMART yeast platforms and further verified in mammalian cell lines. The functional properties will be confirmed using appropriate antimicrobial and spectrophotometric assays for colour detection.