Short Overview of Final Results:
From the very beginning of the project the consortium had a clear goal in mind reflected by the project’s title: “Tobacco as sustainable production platform of the natural biopolymer cyanophycin as co-product to oil and protein” This concept couldn’t come at a better time. Tobacco is mostly known as a smoking plant and the World Health Organisation (WHO) prompts farmers to rethink the agricultural utilisation of tobacco, as the global smoking industry is declining. This project would allow tobacco to serve as a source for biofuel, biomaterials and a food/feed protein.
To achieve this pioneering goal a combination of plant and industrial biotechnology was used to produce cyanophycin (CGP) in the tobacco plants. Two different commercial tobacco varieties were compared to identify the best producer line. This was done by cultivating several events in a greenhouse. After identifying the best performers and homozygous lines, six events of each variety were selected to be grown during the first field trial. The plants were grown and harvested in a field in Argentina. After analysing the additional data gathered from the first field trial the best events were selected again and planted for a second field trial. Finally, the data from that trial allowed the selection for the third and final field trial. The material produced in the greenhouse and field trials was also used to research the most promising ways to isolate and use the CGP in the plants. For this, three main objectives were pursued:
- Identifying ways to extract the CGP from silage or dried leaves instead of freeze-dried material
- Minimizing the cost and steps at pH1 in the isolation procedure
- Identifying new CGP products