Development of phytase-expressing chlamydomonas reinhardtii for monogastric animal nutrition

Abstract Background In plant-derived animal feedstuffs, nearly 80 % of the total phosphorus content is stored as phytate. However, phytate is poorly digested by monogastric animals such as poultry, swine and fish, as they lack the hydrolytic enzyme phytase; hence it is regarded as a nutritionally inactive compound from a phosphate bioavailability point of view. In addition, it also chelates important dietary minerals and essential amino acids. Therefore, dietary supplementation with bioavailable phosphate and exogenous phytases are required to achieve optimal animal growth. In order to simplify the obtaining and application processes, we developed a phytase expressing cell-wall deficient Chlamydomonas reinhardtii strain. Results In this work, we developed a transgenic microalgae expressing a fungal phytase to be used as a food supplement for monogastric animals. A codon optimized Aspergillus niger PhyA E228K phytase (mE228K) with improved performance at pH 3.5 was transformed into the plastid genome of Chlamydomonas reinhardtii in order to achieve optimal expression. We engineered a plastid-specific construction harboring the mE228K gene, which allowed us to obtain high expression level lines with measurable in vitro phytase activity. Both wild-type and cell-wall deficient strains were selected, as the latter is a suitable model for animal digestion. The enzymatic activity of the mE228K expressing lines were approximately 5 phytase units per gram of dry biomass at pH 3.5 and 37 °C, similar to physiological conditions and economically competitive for use in commercial activities. Conclusions A reference basis for the future biotechnological application of microalgae is provided in this work. A cell-wall deficient transgenic microalgae with phytase activity at gastrointestinal pH and temperature and suitable for pellet formation was developed. Moreover, the associated microalgae biomass costs of this strain would be between US$5 and US$60 per ton of feedstuff, similar to the US$2 per ton of feedstuffs of commercially available phytases. Our data provide evidence of phytate-hydrolyzing microalgae biomass for use as a food additive without the need for protein purification.
BMC Biotechnology. 2016 Mar 12;16(1):29