“The research for this work has received funding from the European Union (EU) project ROBOX (grant agreement n° 635734) under EU’s Horizon 2020 Programme  Research and Innovation actions H2020-LEIT BIO-2014-1”

Meet the Researchers at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona 

Daniela Valencia is a second year PhD student at Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB); she holds a bachelor’s degree in Biotechnological Engineering from Catholic University of Santa María (Perú) in 2011. In 2014, she obtained her master’s degree in Advanced Biotechnology from UAB, working in multi-enzymatic synthesis of amino polyols.

Jordi Solé is a first year PhD student, graduated in Biotechnology from the University of Barcelona and obtained his master’s degree in Nanoscience, Materials and Processes from University Rovira i Virgili in 2015. Previously, he worked in the bio-electrochemistry field, specifically in the immobilization and attachment of living microorganisms on the anode of a fuel cell (Photo-Microbial Fuel Cell).

Both are members of the Bioprocess Engineering and Applied Biocatalysis group of UAB, partner 16 in the ROBOX project. Their research is mainly based in the study of biocatalysts immobilization processes and reaction medium engineering. Daniela is currently working with Baeyer-Villiger monooxygenases, while Jordi is in charge of Cytochrome P450.

Immobilization, in Biocatalysis, is described as the localization or confinement of the enzymes in a defined space region through attachment onto supports, entrapment or crosslinking; it has been used for decades in the Biotechnology industry for production purposes and also for diagnostics, chromatography and biosensors. The three main aspects that must be taken into account are the enzyme’s characteristics (surface biochemistry, molecular weight, etc.), the carrier and the bonding method.


Fig 1. Schematics of the three most common enzyme immobilization techniques: (A) physical adsorption, (B) entrapment, and (C) covalent attachment/crosslinking.

The main objective is to improve the stability of the enzymes in order to achieve longer reaction times and reuse them in multiple reaction cycles. For that purpose, different immobilization strategies and supports will be assayed. Since some properties of the enzymes, like specific activity or affinity towards the substrate may be modified when immobilizing, activity and stability under operational conditions for catalysing the target biotransformation will also be performed. The expertise of the group in preparation and characterization of immobilized biocatalysts as well as in Bioreaction engineering will be of relevant importance to accomplish these goals.