Vitamins are widely applied to produce food (including dietary supplements), pharmaceuticals, feedstuffs, and, also, as components of cosmetics. On the industrial scale, the majority of vitamins are produced using methods of chemical synthesis or through the extraction of natural substances, but, in many cases, those processes consume high amounts of energy and generate high waste disposal and waste utilization costs. Those arguments were the spur for searching for options to replace syntheses with biotechnological processes beginning from the use of micro-organisms in the selected bio-transformations (vitamin C) to the complete microbiological synthesis with engineered strains, for example in the case of vitamin B12. An alternative is the production of raw materials of plants with an increased content of vitamins by the metabolic design of pathways of their biosynthesis, or using them as bio-reactors, the so called ‘phytopharming’ (vitamins A and E). This paper presents some selected aspects relating to the biotechnological production of vitamins and to the selection of transgenic organisms for their production.
vitamins, transgenic plants, metabolic design, phytopharming