Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew University

Novel Approach to Improve Production of Secondary Metabolites in Yeast

Posted by Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew UniversityResponsive · Innovative Products and Technologies · Israel

Summary of the technology

Novel Approach to Improve Production of Secondary Metabolites in Yeast
Project ID : 8-2012-2767

Description of the technology

Metabolic engineering harnesses subcellular compartments in bakers’ yeast


Food & Nutrition, Functional Foods & Ingredients, Cosmetics

Development Stage

Proof of concept and prototype

Patent Status

Patent application filed in the United States


  • Secondary metabolites, such as terpenoids (or isoprenoids), produced by plants, are used in pharmaceuticals, perfumes, coloring agents, and food additives among others.
  • The levels of these compounds in plants are low and extraction is costly, inefficient and requires large amounts of plant material, while synthesis involves multiple steps and produces low yields.
  • One approach to obtain rapid and inexpensive high level production of plant terpenoids involves metabolic engineering of heterologous organisms that are easily cultivated and extracted.
  • Bakers’ or brewers’ yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, provides an attractive platform for this process.

Our Innovation

Producing high yields of valuable natural plant compounds in the common yeast, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, by using different subcellular compartments.A yeast line producing high yield of terpenoids has been already developed.

Key Features

  • Up to 20-fold improvement in production of plant derived sesquiterpenoids in yeast.
  • The secondary metabolites include alkaloids, terpenoids, tannins, glycosides (steroids and phenolics) and saponins. These have applications in pharmaceuticals, food flavorings, and perfumery.
  • Can be used for the production of different secondary metabolites according to specific requirements.

Development Milestones

  • Seeking industrial cooperation

The Opportunity

  • May be used to produce natural insecticides, coloring agents, flavors and fragrances, anticancer and antimalarial drugs among others

Link to Article


Project manager

Amichai Baron
VP, Head of Business Development, Agritech & Envir

Project researchers

Alexander (Sasha) Vainstein
HUJI, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences
Plant Sciences and Genetics

Hagai Abeliovich
HUJI, Faculty of Agricultural, Food and Environmental Quality Sciences
Biochemistry, Food Science and Nutrition

Related keywords

  • Technologies for the food industry
  • Food quality and safety
  • Micro- and Nanotechnology related to agrofood
  • Agriculture
  • Agro chemicals
  • Food and Beverages
  • Agriculture, Forestry, Fishing, Animal Husbandry and Related Products
  • Agricultural genetic engineering applications
  • Agricultural chemicals
  • Food & Nutrition
  • Functional Foods & Ingredients

About Yissum - Research Development Company of the Hebrew University

Technology Transfer Office from Israel

Yissum Research Development Company of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem Ltd. Founded in 1964 to protect and commercialize the Hebrew University’s intellectual property. Ranked among the top technology transfer companies, Yissum has registered over 8,900 patents covering 2,500 inventions; has licensed out 800 technologies and has spun-off 90 companies. Products that are based on Hebrew University technologies and were commercialized by Yissum generate today over $2 Billion in annual sales.

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