We hope to develop a less labour intensive, more efficient and sustainable crocin production method that would open up new directions in cancer research as well as industrial biotechnology. That would have long-term benefits in the field of medical research (particularly anti-cancer), cosmetics, the food industry, and beyond.

Most importantly, our project will open up new research avenues in carotenoid biosynthesis. The next steps after a crocin producing strain creation would be in vitro assessment of antiproliferative activity of the purified crocin or carotenoid extract against cancer cells. The antioxidative properties of the newly synthesised microbial carotenoids could be investigated further by methods such as DPPH Radical Scavenging Assay [1] and compared to the properties of pure beta-carotene. The properly extracted carotenoids would not contain any altered (or native) DNA and therefore would not go against the strict European Union legislation on GMOs. The crocin producing strain would open up many opportunities for research in the fields of biotechnology and biomedicine and the open knowledge gained could be also used by future iGEM teams that want to engineer R. toruloides.

We also hope to boost the relatively dormant Latvian biotechnology innovation ecosystem - the participation in the iGEM competition for the first time ever will give an impulse and inspiration to students, academics and the local science community. We want to educate the Latvian society by raising awareness of synthetic biology in general, taking part in local biotechnology events, taking advantage of various digital platforms to gain more recognition and build our network of partners and sponsors.


[1] Hou J, Cui HL. In Vitro Antioxidant, Antihemolytic, and Anticancer Activity of the Carotenoids from Halophilic Archaea. Curr Microbiol. 2018 Mar;75(3):266-271. doi: 10.1007/s00284-017-1374-z. Epub 2017 Oct 16. PMID: 29038844.