Agrifood biotech

New R&D project to obtain added-value ingredients from avocado by-products

New R&D project to obtain added-value ingredients from avocado by-products

The AGUACAVALUE Operative Group promotes this interdisciplinary project promoted by Andalusian companies and R&D Centers.

Agrifood and Circular Bioeconomy are combined in this two-year project led by the Functional Food R&D Center (CIDAF). This ambitious project aims to add value to avocado by-products for animal feed, nutraceuticals and cosmeceuticals. This valorization will allow a better use of natural resources, mitigating the impact of their growing demand and decreasing the environmental impact.

In Spain 91,000 tons of avocado are produced per year (93% of European production) concentrated mainly in the provinces of Malaga and Granada. As result of this activity, around 2,000 tons of bone and skin are discarded. Looking for better alternatives, AGUACAVALUE meets the objectives of the European Association for Innovation in terms of agricultural productivity and sustainability.

This operative group includes several innovative companies and entities such as Grupo La Caña, leading producer of fruits and vegetables (Granada); Frumaco (Trops Group, Málaga), dedicated to the elaboration of avocado derivatives; Cooperativas Agro-Alimentarias de Andalusia (Granada), entity that agglutinates the Andalusian agricultural cooperatives; Natac Biotech, specialized in R&D, industrial production and commercialization of natural ingredients of vegetable origin; and Macob (Granada), dedicated to feed production.

The Functional Food R&D Center (CIDAF) is a technological center that operates at a national level in the research and development of ingredients and functional foods. In addition, the CIDAF is responsible for the characterization and evaluation of bioactive compounds present in by-products and selection of the optimal components in final products.


#Agrifood; #Andalusia



Xtrem Biotech has been selected to team up with multinational leaders including Nestlé, GrainCorp and Tate & Lyle to fuel groundbreaking transformation in Food and Agriculture

Xtrem Biotech, a spin-off company founded in 2013 from a research group of the University of Granada (Spain) focused on the development, production and commercialization of sustainable, microorganism-based biopesticides and biostimulants from a proprietary library of extremophile microbes.

TERRA, the leading Food and Agriculture Accelerator, has selected Xtrem Biotech into its third cohort kicking off next week in San Francisco – near the headquarters of RocketSpace - one of the program’s founding partners. Xtrem Biotech was selected as one of the 17 most innovative startups from across the globe to work alongside industry giants including founding partner Rabobank, as well as AgroFresh, Beta San Miguel, Graincorp, Griffith Foods, Grupo Azuca de Mexico, Nestlé USA, OSI and Tate & LyleXtrem Biotech will be focused on the use of microorganisms as biostimulants and biofungicide products to complement and substitute agrochemicals.

Founded in 2016, TERRA is a global innovation accelerator fueling groundbreaking transformation in Food & Agriculture in order to advance the well-being of our people and our planet. The program brings together experts, decision-makers, and innovators across the entire value chain - fostering connections that catapult major breakthroughs into scalable solutions by pairing emerging growth companies with established multinationals, in a pilot-driven engagement that leads to tangible results.

" We are excited and honored to be selected to participate in this important innovation accelerator. It’s a wonderful opportunity to show our technology in collaboration with these industry giants "

- Borja Torres, Xtrem Biotech CEO -

#Agrifood; #Andalusia


Formation of folates by microorganisms: towards the biotechnological production of this vitamin.

Formation of folates by microorganisms: towards the biotechnological production of this vitamin.

Revuelta JL, Serrano-Amatriain C, Ledesma-Amaro R, Jiménez A

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. Aug 2018. DOI: 10.1007/s00253-018-9266-0


In this review, Dr. Revuelta from the Metabolic Engineering Group, at University of Salamanca (Spain) and coworkers describe the current strategies aimed at overproducing folates in microorganisms, in view to implement an economic feasible process for the biotechnological production of the vitamin.

Folates are a group of water-soluble compounds that are part of the B vitamin family (B9). Folates are essential micronutrients which function as cofactors in one-carbon transfer reactions involved in the synthesis of nucleotides and amino acids. Folate deficiency is associated with important diseases such as cancer, anemia, cardiovascular diseases, or neural tube defects. Epidemiological data show that folate deficiency is still highly prevalent in many populations. Hence, food fortification with synthetic folic acid (i.e., folic acid supplementation) has become mandatory in many developed countries. However, folate biofortification of staple crops and dairy products as well as folate bioproduction using metabolically engineered microorganisms are promising alternatives to folic acid supplementation.

Unfortunately, all the vitamin B9 commercially available for food supplementation is chemically synthesized Folic Acid, and may present some drawbacks. Several studies seem to raise doubts regarding the safe use of chemically synthetized Folic Acid in foods, whereas natural folates do not cause such adverse health effects in individuals. Despite the remarkable improvements in folate production that have been achieved, the fermentation process is not competitive as yet with the chemical synthesis.

As the authors describe in their conclusion:

Future research should thus focus on the following points:

(i) understanding the complex regulatory mechanisms governing the enzymatic activities involved in the folate pathway;

(ii) flux metabolic analysis to uncover possible bottlenecks and to channeling pABA and pteridine substrates towards the folate biosynthetic pathway;

(iii) the blocking of chorismate-consuming pathways to enhance the synthesis of the limiting pABA substrate;

(iv) the characterization and engineering of folate eukaryotic transporters to facilitate the import of the pABA and pterin substrates into the mitochondria, where the synthesis of folates takes place; and

(v) the optimization of the fermentation conditions and further development of downstream processes for the recovery and purification of the product.


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US Company Hygiena Acquires Biomedal Food Safety Division

US Company Hygiena Acquires Biomedal Food Safety Division

Hygiena, a US company that specializes in rapid food safety and environmental sanitation testing, announced the successful addition of Biomedal’s Food Safety division to its portfolio. Biomedal Food Safety, acquired from Seville, Spain-based Biomedal, offers a wide range of allergen tests including the GlutenTox® product line which contains the highly specific G12 antibody which specifically detects the most immunogenic component that is responsible for gluten intolerance. GlutenTox® Pro holds the certification of the AOAC Research Institute for Performance Tested methods (certificate no. 061502). 

The new division will continue to be based in Seville, and be named Hygiena Diagnóstica España S.L. It will provide more than 20 specific allergen tests available as a sensitive enzyme linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) format or a simple dipstick format that can be easily used to verify cleaning efforts and test finished products.

#Agrifood biotech; #Andalusia; #Spain


The Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (Spain), the John Innes Centre (UK) and the Max Planck Institute (Germany) create an alliance to promote excellence in agricultural genomics research

The Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (Spain), the John Innes Centre (UK) and the Max Planck Institute (Germany) create an alliance to promote excellence in agricultural genomics research

One of the objectives of the agreement between CRAG, JIC and MPIPZ is to contribute to the training of the new generation of scientists in plant biology, a key discipline to face current and future societal challenges

Three leading European plant science institutes from Spain, UK and Germany, have signed an agreement that will strengthen their relationship at scientific and institutional level, promoting the vision of a pan-continental European Research Area. Through this agreement an alliance between the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG), from Barcelona (Spain), the John Innes Centre (JIC), from Norwich (UK), and the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPIPZ), from Cologne (Germany), is born.

CRAG, JIC and MPIPZ recognise the importance of young researchers developing scientific networks across Europe. For this reason, the new alliance will focus first on enabling graduate students and post-doctoral researchers to work together, share experiences and move between the three centres.

The agreement also contemplates a biennial meeting of early-career researchers from CRAG, JIC and MPIPZ to share their research and facilitate the building of many new networks for the future. The firsts of these meetings will take place in Catalonia (Spain) in the Autumn of 2019.


About the Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG)

The Centre for Research in Agricultural Genomics (CRAG) is a centre that forms part of the CERCA system of research centers of the Government of Catalonia, and which was established as a partnership of four institutions: the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), the Institute for Agri-Food Research and Technology (IRTA), the Autonomous University of Barcelona (UAB) and the University of Barcelona (UB). CRAG’s research spans from basic research in plant and farm animal molecular biology, to applications of molecular approaches for breeding of species important for agriculture and food production in close collaboration with industry. CRAG has been recognized as "Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa 2016-2019" by the Spanish Ministry of Economy, Industry and Competitiveness.


About the John Innes Centre (JIC)

John Innes Centre’s mission is to generate knowledge of plants and microbes through innovative research, to train scientists for the future, to apply this knowledge of nature’s diversity to benefit agriculture, the environment, human health and wellbeing, and engage with policy makers and the public. The John Innes Centre is strategically funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC).


About the Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research (MPIPZ)

The Max Planck Institute for Plant Breeding Research carries out basic molecular biological research on plants. The goal of the Cologne-based scientists is to improve conventional breeding methods and to develop environmentally-friendly plant protection strategies for crops.


#Agrifood biotech; #Catalonia


Environmentally friendly treatment of red-wine without sulfites

Environmentally friendly treatment of red-wine without sulfites

A team of Spanish scientists has developed a method to replace sulfite (SO2) in the production and preservation of red wine.

After more than four years of work, a research group of the Institute of Agricultural Research and Training of Andalusia (IFAPA) has discovered the ideal dose of a grapevine-shoot extract made from the recycling of wood pruning vine.

The extract developed by IFAPA's team is rich in stilbenes. Stilbenes are polyphenolic compounds present in nature with antioxidant and cardioprotective activity. Several studies have shown other interesting properties of these products such as antimicrobial and anti-aging activities. IFAPA scientists are experts in this family of compounds and have developed several studies related to its properties.

The results, published in the Journal of the Science of Food and Agriculture, show that, although some aromatic properties of these wines may change, these changes are not considered to affect the quality of the wines negatively. These results are useful for wineries, which face having to discover the aroma-related processes in the challenge of producing SO2 -free wines without detriment to their sensory properties.

#Agrifood biotech; #Andalusia; #Spain