In South Korea, the joint research team of POSTECH and Seoul National University developed a new microorganism, which they named as Vibrio sp. dhg that they have successfully demonstrated can be a promising microbial platform for the biorefinery of brown macroalgae which can replace starch-crop biomass.
Continuing efforts on studying utilization of non-edible biomass have been made and brown macroalgae have been suggested as an alternative feedstock. Brown macroalgae grow two to three times faster than the starch crops and only require light and seawater to grow. Although they are only consumed in a few countries such as Korea, they are not eaten in most of the countries. Because of these advantages, they seem to be a reasonable alternative choice. However, there was no industrial microorganism that can easily metabolize polysaccharides like alginic acid in algae and it was difficult to develop the process for utilizing algae as biomass.
Especially, the new artificial microorganism they found has many advantages and brings great expectations of its future usage. For example, Vibrio sp. dhg can not only use brown macroalgae as biomass but also other various biomass more efficiently than the conventional industrial microorganisms (E. coli, yeast). Also, their growth rate is two times faster and they convert biomass more rapidly. Therefore, it is expected to be used for improving the efficiency of microbial fermentation process using not only algae but also conventional glucose-based biomass.