“This collaboration is very important for my research. Here at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU), there is access to well-developed equipment in biotechnology, which we don’t have at the University of Chile”, Ravanal says.
She works at the Institute for Cell Dynamics and Biotechnology (ICDB), which is a Centre for Systems Biology (ICDB) at the University of Chile. Her research visit to Norway is part of a research exchange program to promote a long-term strategic collaboration between Foods of Norway and ICDB to develop new technologies for producing bioactive compounds, chemicals, feed and food ingredients and biofuel.
One aim of the exchange program is to establish researcher training in bioeconomics related to processing and advanced biorefinery processes of Chilean and Norwegian macroalgae.
“Before I came here, I only produced bioethanol from the Chilean brown algae I work with, Macrocystis pyrifera (Giant Bladder Kelp). Now I have learnt how to quantify the nitrogen level in the biomass, for instance, and the protein fermentation process”, Ravanal elaborates.
“This exchange of knowledge is very good. Cristina has given me the chance to also work with Chilean biomass. Since it grows in the Pacific Ocean, the harvesting conditions for Macrocystis pyrifera differ from the brown algae widely distributed in the North Atlantic, Saccharina latissima (Sweet Kelp)”, NMBU-researcher Sandeep Sharma says.
Hunt for new enzymes
Another aim is to exchange expertise in enzyme technology and use of microorganisms for saccharification and fermentation of macroalgae, optimizing the enzymatic saccharification of Norwegian and Chilean seaweed.
“The University of Chile has strong expertise in enzymology. This knowledge is important for us. Looking for possible new enzymes, we screen the two biomasses”, Sharma says.
The results from four weeks of intensive work will be the scientific paper with the working title “Evaluation of different alginate lyases for production of single-cell protein based on Saccharina latissima and Macrocystis pyrifera”.
New exchange in November
“Will the collaboration continue?”
“Yes. It has been so productive to work together. We have many concrete ideas for further collaboration”, Sharma and Ravanal agree.
In November, the exchange will be the other way around, as NMBUs researcher Kiira Vuoristo will go to Chile.