Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg

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Olive leaf multi-product cascade based biorefinery: From an under-used biomass in the primary sector to tailormade solutions for high added value international market applications.

OLEAF4VALUE is a research and innovation action (RIA) funded by the Bio-based Industries Joint Undertaking (BBI JU), a Public-Private Partnership between the European Union and the Bio-based Industries Consortium. The action is focused on tackling the problem generated by olive biomass through the development of a complete olive leaf upcycling system.

This three-year project that will develop a complete valorization system for olive leafs. 4,5 million ton of olive leaves are produced annually in the world by the olive oil industry, a key industry in southern Europe and along the Mediterranean coast (Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Slovenia, among others). This recalcitrant biomass represents a problem for both the farmers and the whole olive oil industry, who need to remove it from the fields and the olive oil mills. This biomass is nowadays burnt in the fields, given to the cattle or, in some cases, combusted to produce energy.

OLEAF4VALUE will put together a competitive consortium of highly experienced partners devoted to the complete valorization of this new underexploited biomass. The consortium will address all the stages of the value chain: raw material, biorefining, post-extraction technologies, market validation and sustainability assessment.

The goal of OLEAF4VALUE is to set up the basis of a smart value chain based on a newly developed 4.0 concept: Smart Dynamic Multi-Valorization-Route Biorefinery (SAMBIO) for the cascade valorization of the olive leaf biomass according to its physicochemical composition, particularly modulated by specific pretreatments to produce target products. Advanced green extraction and isolation technologies will be used to sequentially separate all fractions and compounds of value, with a zero-waste approach. Enzymatic biotransformation and nanoencapsulation technologies will be applied to develop tailor made prototypes according to end user market needs from high value sectors: food, feed, health, cosmetic, pharma and chemical industries. Large companies from these sectors within the consortium will guarantee a good market-oriented approach throughout the project.

OLEAF4VALUE will link the primary olive sector from southern Europe with large multinationals from the high valued competitive markets in a circular bioeconomy project.

The MLU team (″Biofunctionality of Secondary Plant Compounds“) analyzes the bioactivity of different olive leave extracts or olive leaf compounds (different extraction methods, encapsulated compounds…). The in vivo analysis of bioactivity, e.g. antioxidative, stress-reducing abilities, is performed using the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans. According to our results, the valorization chain may is modulated due to distinct bioactivities.

BBI JU funding

BBI JU funding

BBI JU funding

Prevention of Morbus Parkinson by plant extracts?

Morbus parkinson is the second most common neurodegenerative disorder. However, knowledge about mechanisms involved in pathogenesis is sparse, and there is no causal medical treatment available so far.

With the help of the well-established model organism Caenorhabditis elegans certain aspects of the disease can be modeled, e.g. the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons. We seek to identify plant extracts capable of preventing or decelerating processes involved in pathogenesis, as well as elucidating the underlying molecular mechanisms.

Contact: Christina Saier,

Modulation of fat accumulation by plant extracts?

Various plants and plant extracts are advertised as agents preventing obesity. For example, artichoke is thought to reduce cholesterol levels, grapefruit to stimulate burning of fat, and green tea to decrease weight gain.

We would like to know, if certain plant extracts are capable of modulating fat metabolism and which are the molecular mechanisms responsible for it. To find answers, we are using different C. elegans strains with increased lipid contents which can be detected and quantified using several dyes. Furthermore, we are examining physiological impacts of these plant extracts on the nematode (e.g. motility, stress resistance, life span) and are trying to elucidate the underlying molecular mechanisms.

Contact: Sabrina Baier,

Completed theses

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