The Development Of An Efficient Pilot-Scale Leghemoglobine Production Technology, Based On Recombinant Pichia Pastoris And Kluyveromyces Lactis Fed-Batch Fermentations (BioHeme) / Efektīvas pilot-mēroga leghemoglobīna ražošanas tehnoloģijas izstrāde uz rekombinanto Pichia pastoris un Kluyveromyces lactis fermentācijas procesu ar piebarošanu bāzes (BioHeme) (ID Nr.

01.01.2022 – 30.11.2023

Project Description

We are working with the Latvia State Institute of Wood Chemistry and the Latvian Biomedical Research & Study centre on an EU-project on the development and scale-up for the production of leghemoglobin (LegH).

As the world is shifting away from animal products toward a more vegetable-based diet, meat-substitutes are becoming more popular.

If you have tried meat-substitutes such as veggie burgers or soy nuggets you might know that one of the main difficulties that these products have to contend with is trying to mimic the taste and aroma of their meat-based counterparts.

It was discovered that the molecule that makes meat taste like meat is heme. It is the heme-part in hemoglobin, which you may know makes blood the colour red.

This project uses 2 genetically modified yeast strains to produce a completely plant-based hemeprotein – LegH, which is found in the roots of soy plants, to mimic the taste of meat and make plant-based substitutes taste more like animal meat.

The goal of the project is threefold:

  1. Obtain recombinant versions of 2 yeast strains for the production of bioheme

  2. Find ways to produce bioheme in large quantities

  3. Develop a pilot scale bioreactor system for scale-up studies

At we are currently in the early stages of development for a 50L bioreactor system for this purpose, which is planned to be completed by the spring of 2023.


Project Details

Project status: Active

Project execution time 01.01.2022 to 30.11.2023

Project type ERAF-

Project number

Project manager Juris Vanags


Call for Project

Specific Objective 1.1.1 “Improve research and innovation capacity and the ability of Latvian research institutions to attract external funding, by investing in human capital and infrastructure” measure “Support for applied research”

Cooperation partners

Latvian Biomedical Research and Study Centre

Latvian State Institute of Wood Chemistry

Project goal

The Project goal is to develop effective fed-batch fermentation and scale-up techniques for the production of plant-based meat substitutes, utilizing a recombinant LegH (leghemoglobine) producing strain of Pichia pastoris and Kluyveromyces lactis.

Main activities of the project:

The main activities of the project include the creation of two genetically modified yeast strains capable of utilizing cheap and freely available substrates for hemoprotein biosynthesis. As well as to develop the following: efficient fermentation technologies for both previously obtained yeast strains; mathematical models of processes; efficient model-based control systems that would allow automatic control of hemeprotein biosynthesis processes in both batch and fed-batch mode. In addition, the project plans to perform theoretical and practical scaling of hemeprotein production processes to a pilot scale, as well as to evaluate the commercialization potential of the developed fermentation process and related systems.

Project duration: 23 months.

Total eligible costs of the Project account for 540 540 EUR, including funding from the European Regional Development Fund in amount of 81.96 % – 443 026.58 EUR.

Publications (in Latvian)

1. Projekta pārskats par paveikto laika periodā no 01.01.2022 līdz 31.03.2022

2. Projekta pārskats par paveikto laika periodā no 01.04.2022 līdz 30.06.2022

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