SBIR Phase I: Metabolic Engineering of Moritella marina MP-1 for DHA Production

Period of Performance: 01/01/2013 - 12/31/2013


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Metabolic Technologies, Inc.
Ames, IA 50010
Principal Investigator, Firm POC


This Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I project aims to evaluate the use of a marine organism for production of the polyunsaturated fatty acid (PUFA), docosahexaenoic acid (DHA). DHA is important for maintaining good health and is in serious supply shortage worldwide. Metabolic engineering will be used to increase DHA production in Moritella marina, which naturally produces DHA. This will be accomplished by deletion of competing metabolic pathways to increase expression of the DHA-producing pathway. The goal is to increase production such that the overall DHA titer is 1.0 g/L. This work also will provide insight into control of central metabolic flux and sensing and control of fatty acid content and production. Thus, the intellectual merit of this work extends to a variety of metabolic products. The broader impact/commercial impact of this project is the development of an alternative production system for DHA, a sustainable and safe nutraceutical that is in serious supply shortage worldwide. Data suggest that omega-3 fatty acids, such as DHA, play important roles in enhancing heart health, brain health, child and infant development and preventing various chronic diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis, obesity and type-2 diabetes. It is recommended that the general public consume at least 100-1000 mg of PUFA daily; the current primary source for DHA is from cold water fish, which cannot meet global demand. The commercial goal is to biomanufacture DHA, and then market a DHA-enriched oil to nutritional supplement and food manufacturers to meet the growing demand for this product.