SECRETed project

Environmental, economic and social impact

Replacement of fossil-based surfactants and siderophores production with cost-effective and ‘eco-friendly’ microbial production of marine-based compounds

  • Expected CO2 emissions reduction by 94% compared with existing practices.
  •  Fully exploitation of already sampled species to avoid environmental damages from sampling campaigns.
  • Increasing carbon efficiency by:

          – maximising product titres, yields and productivities using modified micro-organisms
          – optimising separation technologies for effective products recovery
          – using side and waste streams as inputs for fermentation

  • Technological outcomes are expected to contribute to creation of new jobs by 1-2% in the entire industrial biotechnology value chain.


  • Reduces pressure on harvesting wild populations and increases knowledge about biodiversity potential by screening candidate microbial collections and biosynthetic gene clusters to identify and build hosts with desired metabolic pathways
  • Exploration of broad range of bacterial physiologies towards protection of oceans and aquatic environments

Contribution to EU and UN Goals

  • Exploration of broad range of bacterial physiologies according to COP21 Paris Agreement and the 2050 UE long-term strategy towards
    protection of oceans and aquatic environments.
  • Replacement of existing fossil-based compounds and opening of new markets, being in line with the Industrial Policy objectives and the Circular Economy Action Plan.
  • Public-private cooperation in European biotechnology by connecting ‘green’ (plant), ‘blue’ (marine) and ‘white’ (industrial) biotechnology sectors.
  • Contributions to Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)

    SDG 2 – Zero Hunger: new biosurfactant formulations capable of encapsulating compounds to avoid phytopathogens proliferations.
    SDG 6 – Clean Water and Sanitation: novel siderophores capable to be used as plant-promoting factors and for plant pathogens control.
    SDG 8 – Inclusive and sustainable economic growth;
    SDG 9 – Sustainable Industrialisation: sustainable industrial biotechnology leading to highly specialised quality jobs.
    SDG 12 – Responsible Consumption and Production
    SDG 13 – Climate Action: Bio-based surfactants from raw feedstocks, diminishing petrochemical dependency and contributing to circular economy.
    SDG 14 – Life Below Water;
    SDG 15 – Life on Land: Biosurfactants facilitating microbial crude oil degradation, while siderophores employed for bioremediation of soils by chelating heavy metals.


  • Amphiphilic compounds with properties reaching a wider range of applications compared with non-amphiphilic counterparts.
  • Supramolecular surfactants architectures as encapsulating agents in 5 different applications including: cosmetics, house-hold care, food
    industry/nutrition, agrochemical industry and genetic material delivery.
  • Cost-effective and ‘eco-friendly’ biological production of novel tailor-made, bio-sourced and biodegradable amphiphilic molecules with clear-cut benefits for consumers and bioactive properties for the pharmaceutical, cosmetics, food, construction, agrochemical and marine sectors.
  • Biosurfactants Applications

    Cosmetics: encapsulate pigments, fragrances, and essential oils.
    Industry Demands: microencapsulated active agents as fire retardants, heat retarding agents, phase change materials and antimicrobial agents.
    Food and beverages: taste/odour masking; bioavailability of lipophilic substances (omega 3 oils), plant/algae bioactive molecules (polyphenols and carotenoids)
    Pharmaceutical: masking bitter taste of drugs; reduce gastro-intestinal tract irritations; maximise bioavailability of drugs in target sites.

  • Amphiphilic siderophores Applications

    Iron chelation: identification and design of new drugs; alternative iron chelation molecules solving short half-life and repeated daily injections of existing siderophores.
    Cancer treatment: inhibition over tumorigenic proteins with roles in cell migration, proliferation, apoptosis and morphogenesis.
    Antibiotic-resistant infections: fight against antibiotic-resistant bacteria; act as “Trojan Horse”, facilitating uptake of antibiotic across the cell membrane.