Fermentation platforms and technologies

Overview

Industrial biotechnology is predicated on the utilisation of biological processes to produce high value and sustainably produced products. QUT has some of Australia’s leading capability in research and scale-up of processes for the microbial production of biofuels, biochemicals and other bioproducts with a particular capability in fungal systems.

Production of proteins, lipids and biochemicals by filamentous fungi

Associate Professor Robert Speight at the Mackay Renewable Biocommodities Pilot Plant

Filamentous fungi have wide applications in the production of food and food additives (soy source, fermented soybeans, etc.), organic acids (citric acid, lactic acid, etc.), lipids and enzymes. Lipids, depending on their composition, can be used as substrates for the production of functional foods, nutraceuticals, or biodiesel. In recent years, lipid production by filamentous fungi has received increasing interest. The major advantages of lipid production by filamentous fungi include high productivity, low nutrient requirements, ability to metabolise C5 sugars, and simple biomass harvest by filtration. QUT has considerable experience working with a range of fungal lipid producers and is currently working on process optimisation and scale-up.

In particular T. reesei is an industrial workhorse filamentous fungus for the production and secretion of its own hydrolytic enzymes for the hydrolysis of different biomass feedstocks down to fermentable C6/C5 sugars. T. reesei can also be developed to be high producer and secretor of recombinant gene products such as thermophilic enzymes suitable for the complete hydrolysis of different biomass feedstocks used in different applications such as biofuels, oil and gas. QUT has extensive experience in designing and creating recombinant strains of T. reesei which undergoes further strain optimisation through genetic and cultivation improvement processes resulting in the high-level production of different bioproducts targeted for secretion into the cultivation medium, easing downstream processing. Futhermore, QUT has experience in scaling up T. reesei fermentation to commercial scale.

Other microbial platforms

No one production host system can produce all the different bioproducts.Therefore, having a multiple microbial platform for high level production of the different bioproducts is essential. QUT has extensive experience in developing a wide range of microbial production hosts that include bacteria (e.g. Escherichia coli) and yeasts (e.g. Saccharomyces cerevisiae, Pichia pastoris, Kluyveromyces lactis, etc). Further, QUT is developing other microbial systems (acidogens/acetogens and methanogens) suitable for the conversion of different feedstock such as solid hydrocarbons and other wastes for conversion to biogas.

QUT has experience in the transformation of microalgae for enhanced stress tolerance and optimal lipid metabolism for the generation of biofuels. We are interested in the development of resilient algal varieties that can be used for the industrial scale production of biofuels and biomaterials.