The exploitation of Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous as a sustainable platform for the PROduction of high-value CARotenoids
Acronym: PROCAR

Project coordinator
- Paul Fraser - Royal Holloway University of Londen - United Kingdom

Project leaders
- Gerhard Sandmann - Goethe Universitat Frankfurt, Molecular Biosciences - Germany
- Frédéric Weekers - Artechno sa - Belgium
- Carmen Socaciu - Proplanta SRL - Romania
- Jochen Forster - Technical University of Denmark - Denmark
- Stefan Neumann - Wacker Chemie AG - Germany

Most of the colours in the natural world are due to the presence of compounds known as carotenoids. These natural pigments have been utilised by human civilisations for millennia, and exploited by industry commercially as colorants, and health and dietary supplements. Two particular carotenoids namely zeaxanthin and phytoene, are in high demand and it is estimated that the global market for zeaxanthin alone will reach$334 million by 2018. This interest in zeaxanthin is associated with its use as a treatment and preventative measure against Age Related Macular Degeneration (AMD), a chronic eye disorder that accounts for over half of all cases of blindness in Western societies. Phytoene is a colourless carotene used as a bioactive ingredient in the rapidly expanding cosmetic industry. Its beneficial activities include protection against UV and oxidative damage, which lead to pre-mature ageing and other phenomena.

Presently chemical synthesis is the production method used to produce these pigments/compounds. However, with the advent of new technologies microbial production is a competitive sustainable alternative to plant and chemical based production. This approach also does not compete with land resources for food production or impact on our dwindling sources of fossil fuel. In the PROCAR project state of the art technologies will be used to develop the red yeast Xanthophyllomyces dendrorhous as a renewable source of natural zeaxanthin and phytoene to meet the demands of the European consumer.