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Biovalorization of Olive Mill Wastewater to Microbial Lipids and other Products via Rhodotorula glutinis Fermentation (2018 ‒ 2021)





Grant No. 722361 


Source of funding: Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme ERA-net CoBioTech (1-st call)

Project period: 01.06.2018 – 31.05.2021 (36 months)

Total budget:  1 928 000 EUR (210 000 EUR for CSGB)

Project coordinator: Mr. Alper Karakaya, Düzen Biological Sciences R&D and Production, Turkey

Project coordinator from our group: Professor, Egils Stalidzāns,


Olive mill wastewater (OMW) is a significant by-product of the food industry of the olive oil producer countries in the Mediterranean basin, with a high environmental impact, when not appropriately treated. However, at the same time, OMW is rich in organic compounds, which can either be used directly after extraction or valorized via biocatalytic processes. RHODOLIVE suggests an innovative circular bioeconomy approach for the valorization of this side-stream of the food industry, by treating the OMW with a non-conventional yeast, in order to accumulate and produce microbial lipids, biophenols and carotenoids, which will be used in the development of functional food products.

Project summary:

To be able to fulfil the goals of RHODOLIVE, a multidisciplinary approach is adopted, that harmonically utilizes the know-how of different fields. Six different lands are participating in our consortium, several of them already facing the challenge of the treatment of OMW, like olive oil producing countries. The partners participating have complementary expertise so that a holistic approach to the valorization of OMW is possible.

More specifically, DÜZEN Biological Sciences Research and Development and Production Co. (DÜZEN, Turkey) will provide the know-how of the fermentation of R. glutinis that accumulated since 2009, in their collaboration with Ankara University. A pilot-scale bioreactor (30 L) will be installed near the Laleli olive oil company (owned by DÜZEN) in Balikesir, to perform the preparative fermentation and the optimisation studies. The studies will focus on the yeast biomass and several bioproducts of the fermentation, namely lipids, biophenols (such as luteolin) and carotenoids (β-carotene).  The National Institute of Chemistry in Slovenia will contribute their expertise in the development of “green” extraction systems for the purification of the aforementioned products from the delivered biomass. University of Kassel (UniKassel, Germany) will use enzymes to transform the isolated phenolics, to improve their organoleptic properties.  The final isolated biocompounds and the biomass will be used from Asociación para la Investigación, Desarrollo e Innovación del sector Agroalimentario (AIDISA, Spain), which will perform studies on their implementation in food products.  In parallel, to minimize the environmental impact even further, Agenzia nazionale per le nuove tecnologie, l'energia e lo sviluppo economico sostenibile (ENEA, Italy) in collaboration with Leuphana University of Lüneburg (Germany) will identify fungi and algae that can further degrade the effluent of the fermentation, while via proteomic and metabolomic studies novel nutraceutical compounds will be identified from these organisms, that will increase the impact of the developed circular bioprocess. In parallel to this chain of delivery, University of Latvia will provide an insight into the metabolic pathways of R. glutinis with their expertise on metabolism modelling.

This study will provide constructive feedback to improve both the fermentation, by identifying the bottlenecks and trying to surpass them with changing the fermentation parameters, and the strain, by producing (in collaboration with UniKassel) novel improved strains of R. glutinis that could later be used to further increase the titer, to establish a sustainable bioprocess.

Though this integrated treatment of OMW we envision the sustainable and environmentally friendly bioprocess that will provide a competitive niche in the food industry. RHODOLIVE will be performed in industrial-related environment, using pilot-scale bioreactor, while all the subsequent steps will be in preparative scale. Aim of RHODOLIVE is to develop a bioprocess for providing industrial synergy and contributing to a circular bio-economy and reducing the carbon footprint.

More information about the project can be found on the project website.







During the project, pilot-scale fermenter of olive mill wastewater (OMW) is installed at Laleli oil company in Buhaniye (Turkey). That bioreactor is supplying other partners with R. glutinis biomass and effluent other partners that are working on their tasks on the utilisation of the effluent by other organisms as well as the use of R. glutinis biomass in the food industry.

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