Alle Storys
Keine Story von Technische Universität München mehr verpassen.

Technische Universität München

Basis for next-gen bioprocesses: “New” organism being prepared for biotechnology applications

Corporate Communications Center

phone: +49 8161 5403 - email: - web:

This text on the web:


Basis for next-gen bioprocesses

“New” organism being prepared for biotechnology applications

Succinic acid is an important precursor for pharmaceutical and cosmetic products and also serves as a component in biodegradable plastics. It is currently derived mainly from petroleum-based processes. Researchers at the Straubing campus of the Technical University of Munich (TUM) are using the marine bacterium Vibrio natriegens as a biocatalyst. This could permit the production of succinic acid in sustainable processes using renewable raw materials.

The marine bacterium Vibrio natriegens is remarkable for its extremely rapid growth. It is the fastest growing non-pathogenic organism discovered to date. This is combined with their extremely fast uptake of substrates – the reactant materials consumed in catalytic reactions. “We are pushing hard to establish Vibrio natriegens in biotechnology,” says Bastian Blombach, Professor of Microbial Biotechnology at TUM.

Prof. Blombach’s team at TUM Campus Straubing for Biotechnology and Sustainability is investigating ways to use this marine bacteria to make production processes more time-efficient, thus conserving resources, while reducing the scale of biotechnology facilities.

Marine bacterium helps to produce succinic acid

The researchers have now succeeded in using the example of succinic acid to demonstrate the potential of the marine bacterium. Succinic acid is an organic substance found in fossilized resins such as amber and in bituminous coal. In nature it can be found in unripe grapes, rhubarb and tomatoes, for instance.

Succinate, the salt of succinic acid, occurs in the metabolism of all organisms, where it is used in an intermediate stage in the breakdown of glucose. The natural presence of succinic acid in metabolic processes is now being used in biotechnology efforts to produce the acid with microorganisms such as the marine bacterium studied by the TUM researchers. This requires an understanding of the metabolic action of microbial platforms such as Vibrio natriegens.

Potential for industrial biotechnology

Prof. Blombach’s team is applying metabolic engineering methods to develop these innovative microbial systems for industrial biotechnology. With advanced genetic engineering techniques, it is then possible to create tailor-made cell factories.

Dr. Felix Thoma, a researcher at the Microbial Biotechnology and first author of the study, explains how the team produced succinic acid: “We filled plastic tubes with a saline solution, in which Vibrio natriegens thrives, added glucose, and sealed them airtight. In the absence of oxygen, the bacteria converted the sugar and the dissolved CO2 in the medium into succinic acid. The process was completed after around two to three hours.”

In a further step, the researchers conducted the experiments in a bioreactor, where they could control the pH level, which otherwise becomes gradually inhospitable as the acid forms. This also allowed them to continually feed the co-substrate, CO2.

A bacterium soon to be a key process partner

Succinic acid is among 12 key products where bioengineering production could compete successfully with petrochemical methods in the future. “Our results after just two years of development work with Vibrio natriegens are comparable to what we see in other systems after 15 or 20 years. That makes this marine bacterium a new and potent actor in industrial biotechnology,” says Thoma.

Through targeted genetic modifications, the research team has succeeded in optimizing the bacterium’s metabolism to the point where it efficiently converts glucose into succinic acid – at a high level of productivity. “On the way to a viable industrial process, there is still work to do in terms of the process design,” says Prof. Blombach. The team is now working to develop the process with Vibrio natriegens and the usability of renewable raw materials and waste flows that do not compete with the food industry.


Felix Thoma, Clarissa Schulze, Carolina Gutierrez-Coto, Maurice Hädrich, Janine Huber, Christoph Gunkel, Rebecca Thoma & Bastian Blombach (2021): Metabolic engineering of Vibrio natriegens for anaerobic succinate production. In: Microbial Biotechnology. DOI: 10.1111/1751-7915.13983. URL:

Eugenia Hoffart, Sebastian Grenz, Julian Lange, Robert Nitschel, Felix Müller, Andreas Schwentner, André Feith, Mira Lenfers-Lücker, Ralf Takors & Bastian Blombach (2021): High substrate uptake rates empower Vibrio natriegens as production host for industrial biotechnology. In: Applied and Environmental Microbiology. Vol. 83, No. 22. DOI: 10.1128/AEM.01614-17. URL:

Felix Thoma & Bastian Blombach (2021): Metabolic engineering of Vibrio natriegens. In: Essays Biochem (2021) 65 (2): 381-392. DOI: 10.1042/EBC20200135. URL:

Further information:

The study was funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG).


Prof. Bastian Blombach

Technical University of Munich (TUM)

Microbial Biotechnology

+49 (0) 9421 187-420

Dr. Felix Thoma

Technical University of Munich (TUM)

Researcher at the Microbial Biotechnology

+49 (0) 9421 187-426

The Technical University of Munich (TUM) is one of Europe’s leading research universities, with more than 600 professors, 48,000 students, and 11,000 academic and non-academic staff. Its focus areas are the engineering sciences, natural sciences, life sciences and medicine, combined with economic and social sciences. TUM acts as an entrepreneurial university that promotes talents and creates value for society. In that it profits from having strong partners in science and industry. It is represented worldwide with the TUM Asia campus in Singapore as well as offices in Beijing, Brussels, Mumbai, San Francisco, and São Paulo. Nobel Prize winners and inventors such as Rudolf Diesel, Carl von Linde, and Rudolf Mößbauer have done research at TUM. In 2006, 2012, and 2019 it won recognition as a German "Excellence University." In international rankings, TUM regularly places among the best universities in Germany.

Weitere Storys: Technische Universität München
Weitere Storys: Technische Universität München
  • 08.02.2022 – 13:40

    New technology for clinical CT scans

    TECHNICAL UNIVERSITY OF MUNICH Corporate Communications Center phone: +49 89 289 10808 - email: - web: This text on the web: Pictures: NEWS RELEASE New technology for clinical CT scans Prototype of a clinical CT device combines dark-field X-ray and conventional technology For the first time, a ...

  • 08.02.2022 – 11:03

    Phosphate nutrition of plants through symbiosis with fungi

    Corporate Communications Center phone: +49 8161 5403 - email: - web: This text on the web: High resolution images: NEWS RELEASE Phosphate nutrition of plants through symbiosis with fungi Root symbiosis is regulated through nutrient status of plants Phosphorus is one of the most important nutrients ...

  • 04.02.2022 – 14:00

    Overcoming resistance of pancreatic cancer to immunotherapies

    Corporate Communications Center phone: +49 8161 5403 - email: - web: This text on the web: High resolution images: NEWS RELEASE “Inflaming” cold tumors Overcoming resistance of pancreatic cancer to immunotherapies Pancreatic carcinoma is a ...