A collaboration of American and British researchers are embarking on a year-long study to see whether they can develop a way for microorganisms to ferment methane gas into omega-3 fatty acids.
The project, called PUFA (polyunsaturated fatty acids), is being funded by industrial biotechnology catalyst grants from InnovateUK and the U.K.’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council with further investment from Calysta, a U.S. sustainable nutrition company.
Nigel Minton, a professor at the University of Nottingham’s Synthetic Biology Research Centre, will lead the research. “We will be engineering the Methanococcus microbe to produce polyunsaturated fatty acids from a cheap and replenishable feedstock -- methane gas,” he said in a university release published on sciencedaily.com.
“There are huge potential benefits in terms of reducing dependency on fishing and also creating a new use for a plentiful gas that has a harmful effect on the environment if unharnessed. Methane is a low cost and sustainable feedstock that can be produced from a variety of renewable sources, including anaerobic digestion which is now prevalent in the UK and EU."
While the jury’s out on making omegas from fermented gas, suppliers continue to turn to algae as a more sustainable source of fatty acids. Perhaps gas and scum will drive the sustainable future of omega-3 fatty acids.