The solid scientific basis of DARWIN is reflected in the development of multiple R+D activities in the company. Some of these activities focus on the development of new products and services, while others aim to respond to the need of establishing public-private partnerships for the effective transfer of knowledge, both with national and international organizations.
Improved Bioprospecting Platform
The characterization in depth and the exploitation from the biotechnological point of view of a microorganism necessarily require its cultivation and maintenance in the laboratory, and this is why there is a growing need to seek new cultivation techniques. At DARWIN, we are developing an innovative farming platform characterized by generating physicochemical gradients of different nutrients, mimicking the natural environment in which microorganisms live. The objective of this line of R&D is to increase the number and diversity of microorganisms grown and isolated in our laboratory.
Financing: co-financed by the Torres Quevedo Program of the MICINN (PTQ-16-08227)
The accumulation of carotenoids plays an important role in the protection of bacteria against various types of stress, in particular, against the stress generated by radiation. Currently there is a growing demand for natural dyes or pigments (obtained mainly from plants) in the food, pharmaceutical, cosmetic or textile industry. This project aims to address the study of microbiomes of high insolation environments (in particular, the surface of solar panels) from a double perspective: basic and applied. The objective is to describe the taxonomic and functional characteristics of this extreme environment, as well as to contribute to the discovery of microorganisms with physiological activities in vitro and in vivo of interest (for example, protection against oxidative stress), and to optimize the production of carotenoids by metabolic engineering.
Financing: co-financed with the Industrial Doctoral Program of the MICINN (DI-16-08227).
Adaptation and optimization of bioinformatic pipelines for the MinION technology
The technology of sequencing of Oxford Nanopore has revolutionized the panorama of omic sciences due to its affordable price and its capacity to generate sequences of great length, which until now had been the biggest limitation in the field. However, there are several limitations that limit the application of this technology: a worse quality of the generated sequences, a lack of specific software, a lack of homogenization criteria and run optimization (multiplexing of samples, analysis time, etc). In DARWIN, we are trying to establish an optimized methodology to apply this technology to all the areas of metagenomics, at the level of taxonomy (marker and / or shotgun genes) and functional analysis. This work mainly includes performance tests on quantity and quality of the readings using different sample preparation kits, and performance check of different pipelines and bioinformatics tools available in the market or generated by
the company itself.
Financing: co-financed by the Industrial Doctoral Program of the MICINN (DI-17-09613)
Increase in biogas production efficiency
Anaerobic digestion is an established technology that allows the microbial conversion of the biomass present in sewage sludge into methane and carbon dioxide. The production of a biogas plant depends on the microorganisms inside, being the composition of these one of the keys to its proper functioning. At DARWIN, we collaborate with the company Bio-H2 Umwelt GmbH and the Robert Boyle Institut (both located in Germany) in order to characterize this process of microbial conversion and to increase the efficiency of biogas production.
BioRoboost: international cooperation on standardization in synthetic biology
Synthetic biology is a discipline that derives from the principles of engineering to finally redesign biological circuits for their use in different applications and, like any engineering, it depends on the use of well-defined, universal and robust standard components. DARWIN participates in the European Project “BioRoboost: Fostering Synthetic Biology standardization through international collaboration”, a CSA within the Horizon 2020 framework, in which a total of 20 European partners participate and whose main objective is to contribute to the standardization in the field of synthetic biology.
Use of G.mellonella as a new in vivo probiotic screening model
Mammalian models are the closest to humans in evolutionary terms. However, their use is expensive, allows a low number of simultaneous tests and implies ethical considerations. As an alternative, non-mammalian model organisms can be used that, although less complex, are capable of generating results that can be extrapolated to humans. The objective of DARWIN in the framework of NEOTEC is to develop a new screening technology based on the use of the G. mellonella organism as a model of human diseases (specifically, its use as a model of oxidative stress and obesity) as well as to develop new technologies for the generation of mutants of this organism, with the final objective of developing disease models with extrapolated symptoms to humans in future projects. This organism presents a series of advantages over other model organisms of low complexity, including its ability to grow at 37 °C, the possibility of carrying out dissections and histological studies, as well as the possibility of injecting exact doses of the treatments to be studied.
Financing: 2018 NEOTEC grant program: funded by “Centro de Desarrollo Tecnológico Industrial (CDTI)” “Implementation of a new model for screening probiotic” (file SNEO-20181022). Amount: 201,961.00€.
Selection and characterization of probiotic strains for fish
The increase in global demand for fish implies the need for sustainable development in the aquaculture industry. To this end, the development of diets that include probiotic supplements has great potential, and helps reduce the use of antibiotics in this sector. At DARWIN, we intend to contribute to solve these challenges by selecting and characterizing probiotic strains for fish from the mass screening of our own collection of microorganisms. This development aims to improve the resistance of fish to six different pathogens for which, currently, there is no commercial product available in Europe.
Financing: Grant for a Project for the Creation of Technology-Based Companies (CREATEC-CV 2018) (IMCBTA / 2018/8 file), financed by the “Institut Valencià de Competitivitat Empresarial (IVACE)” co-financed with funds from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Amount: 67,223.24€.
Founded by a team of scientists with over 25 years of experience in microbiology and microbial ecology, with the aim of bringing personalized microbial solutions to the market.
Company cofinanced by: