Project

Natural food colorants from microalgae

To keep food good looking, i.e. to prevent it from discoloration, colorants can be added. Microalgae can produce a wide range of colored pigments and therefore they are an interesting source of natural colorants.

Introduction

To keep food good looking, i.e. to prevent it from discoloration, colorants can be added. Microalgae can produce a wide range of colored pigments (Figure 1) and therefore they are an interesting source of natural colorants. Unfortunately, the conditions favorable for the (over)production of interesting pigments are usually unfavorable for growth, because the production is a response to stress (e.g. specific nutrient deprivation, excess light, etc.). To produce large amounts of a specific pigment in time, either the biomass productivity or the pigment content needs to be optimized. This project focuses on optimization of the latter one.

Figure 1: Absorbance spectrum of the most important algal pigments: chlorophylls (green),carotenoids (yellow, orange and red), phycocyanin (blue) and phycoerythrin (red).
Figure 1: Absorbance spectrum of the most important algal pigments: chlorophylls (green),carotenoids (yellow, orange and red), phycocyanin (blue) and phycoerythrin (red).

Aim and research question

My aim is to get insight in the metabolic principles of microalgal pigment biosynthesis. In the end, this will enable optimization of large-scale pigment production.

Approach

I study the optimization of specific pigment contents both theoretically and experimentally. Theoretically, I model the metabolism by using metabolic flux analysis. Experimentally, I study pigment formation in systems ranging from the relatively simple shake flasks or well plates, to the more complex well-controlled photobioreactors. This approach leads to answers of the questions below.

Thesis projects

The table below lists research questions (subjects) and it indicates the kind of work

related to the question.

kimtable.jpg

If you want to do lab experiments, preferably, you followed the course Marine and Animal Cell Biotechnology (BPE-30806); in case of modeling, the course Metabolic Modelling andPathway Analysis (BPE-30303) is preferred as prior knowledge.

If you are interested, please send an email or come by, preferably one to three months prior to the start of your thesis (you can start your thesis all year round).

Acknowledgements

My project is financed by FeyeCon D&I