A unique biological asset that continues to grow
DEINOVE has already gathered over 6,000 bacterial strains, a unique biological asset that continues to grow.
After gathering specimens of “ultra-resistant” bacteria in different hostile environments around the planet (deserts, glaciers, hot springs, volcanos, lagoons, tropical forests, etc.), the company now has a collection of more than 6,000 bacterial strains, including 2,500 of the Deinococcus genus and 3,500 strains of rare and miscellaneous genera that are resistant to UV radiation. The company has also developed and patented a method for selecting strains based on radiation.
DEINOVE is working to characterize the strains in its library in order to identify the different compounds that can be produced by its bacteria. Several innovative compound families have already been detected:
- Some 400 Deinococcus strains naturally produce carotenoids, including one original carotenoid, Deinoxanthin. By optimizing this metabolic channel, DEINOVE has managed to produce 5 other types of commercial carotenoids. DEINOVE’s objective is to produce certain molecules more competitively and to market them in the user markets.
- Several tens of bacterial strains have antibiotic activity and a vast R&D program has been launched in this area, where there are major worldwide medical needs. The teams are also working on strains with antifungal properties.
DEINOVE recently began a systematic characterization program on 450 strains of the Deinococcus genus and other rare genera. Called DEINOSCREEN, this program will make it possible to expand the compound portfolio and potential applications in the healthcare, nutrition and cosmetics fields. It is currently starting with an in vitro screening phase to identify positive hits that will undergo more in-depth effectiveness tests to validate their value for these sectors.
To survive the early ages of our planet, Deinococcus bacteria developed genetic and metabolic capacities unique in the world. These properties enable them to survive in the most hostile environments, but also to produce a variety of compounds from biomass components that other living organisms are unable to use.
Already present on earth 3.5 billion years ago, Deinococci are bacteria with a spherical appearance and measure less than 5 microns in diameter. When mature, they have the form of four contiguous cells that are pinkish-red in color due to high carotenoid content.
Courtesy of Dr. Michael Daly, USIHS, New York.
To survive the first ages of our planet, Deinococcus bacteria “learned” to resist radiation, oxidation, heat, drought and cold. D. radiodurans, for example, is 50 times more resistant to ionizing radiation than E. coli.
All of these aggressions have one thing in common: they damage DNA. The bacterial chromosomes break into hundreds of fragments. But while such breaks are irreversible in all other living organisms, Deinococci are able to reassemble these fragments to reconstitute their genome to near perfection.
In 2006, Prof. Miroslav Radman’s team discovered the genetic mechanisms that enable Deinococcus to "resuscitate". For this, the bacterium uses multiple copies of its genome (some bacteria contain up to 9 copies of their chromosomes!) and uses a repair mechanism of unprecedented simplicity and ingenuity. After the aggression, the Deinococcus chromosomes are fragmented into hundreds of pieces. The bacterium’s repair system is activated and reassembles the fragments to reconstitute the chromosomes. In just a few hours the bacterium is viable again.
Deinococcus, a natural source of compounds with high added value
Deinococci have another property that can also be found in other bacteria, but they have developed it to a scale never before seen: they are able to borrow genes from other living organisms such as bacteria, yeasts and plants, and to sustainably integrate them into their genome, thus multiplying their capabilities.
DEINOVE has 2,500 strains of this original bacterial genus.
This varietal diversity is a major asset for the success of DEINOVE’s R&D. Deinococci are indeed able to produce an extremely wide range of compounds of interest to industry. For each potential application, DEINOVE selects and optimizes the wild strain as close as possible to the desired properties and optimizes it on its genetic and metabolic engineering platform.
Read: « Deinococcus as new chassis for industrial biotechnology: biology, physiology and tools » in the scientific review Journal of Applied Microbiology (JAM).