The CNRS valorization and innovation newsletter (issue 46) emphasized the breakthrough fermentation innovation as well as the strong partnership between CNRS and Pierre-Guerin Technologies. Click here to see the article in French.
A universal fermentor for the culture of microorganisms
The Institute for the chemistry of natural substances of the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Pierre-Guerin Technologies1 have developed a patented fermentor that offers the opportunity to microbiologists to carry out solid and liquid state fermentations in parallel, in one single device. The fermentor Unifertex was exhibited at Achema 2018 and will be marketed in 2019.
Microorganisms are the source of valuable compounds in pharmacy, cosmetics and nutrition. To optimize the culture of these microorganisms, the CNRS Institute for the chemistry of natural substances and Pierre-Guerin Technologies have developed a universal fermentor, Unifertex. It has the unique advantage of coupling liquid-state fermentation largely used by researchers and industrials, with solid support (nutrient agar, agricultural by-products…). Liquid-state fermentation, which is the most widespread technology, is easy to implement, but limits the production of certain valuable compounds. Solid-state fermentation on agar media is closer to the conditions in natural habitats, but is restricted to very small cultivation surface. The partners have combined the two processes in one single device, including also the capacity to engage in-situ solid phase extraction technology (the molecules of interest are trapped during culture by a specific resin), making the process more environmentally friendly and sustainable. The new fermentor was developed in the frame of the European project Tacsmsar1..
“To design Unifertex, we started from the Platotex, its predecessorn developed by the same partners, and we combined our own requirements with the opinion of fermenter users, in order to integrate the maximum of functionalities into our specifications”, says Jamal Ouazzani, Research Director at the Institute for the Chemistry of Natural Substances. Unifertex is an example of close and continuous collaboration between the CNRS laboratory and Pierre-Guerin Technologies. The laboratory was responsible for the scientific specifications, while the manufacturer brought the technological answers. Pierre-Guerin Technologies has also developed the specific equipment control software called ‘Marex’.
With the new fermentor, researchers and industrials can benefit from both cultivation technologies in a limited space. Furhtermore, the liquid and solid-state fermentation compartments communicate to ensure a homogeneous culture conditions. Their juxtaposition makes possible to compare the two culture modes for the same microorganism, with the objective of choosing the optimal option for the production of target compounds. The construction and technical validation of Unifertex are completed; the partners are now working on the process and efficacy validation by cultivating target microorganisms from the Tascmar project. The ready for use marketing is expected to begin in April 2019.
1 Tascmar project develops new tools and strategies for the cultivation of marine invertebrates and symbionts from the mesophotic zone, in hopes of discovering novel metabolites to fight age-related diseases and disorders. Tascmar is coordinated by the CNRS and Jamal Ouzzani as the scientific coordinator.
Jamal Ouazzani / CNRS Institute for the chemistry of natural substances / email@example.com