CHIC is the Chicory Innovation Consortium. The project’s main objectives are 1) to implement New Plant Breeding Techniques (NPBTs) in chicory in order to establish it as a multipurpose crop for the production of health-related products with clear benefits for consumers, and 2) to develop co-innovation pathways with stakeholders for game-changing technologies, such as NPBTs.
The overall objective of Work Package 8 (WP8) is to develop an exploitation strategy built on two strong business cases for NPBT based on high-quality dietary fiber and bioactive terpenes from chicory. Specific objectives are:
- To demonstrate improved functionality of inulin from NPBT chicory in gut fermentation models
- To demonstrate bioactivity of terpenes from chicory using advanced cell-based assays
- To demonstrate the exploitation potential of the most promising NPBT chicory variants via business cases
Both improved inulin and terpene fractions were subjected to in-vitro bioactivity and safety evaluation and business cases for both lines will finally be created. Two types of NPBT chicory mutants have been generated and analysed: one type of mutations targeted to inulin breakdown genes (FEH knock-out, WP2) and the other for germacrene synthase A (CiGAS knock-out, WP1/WP2). Both have been studied for their terpene and inulin quality and quantity compared to commercial chicory. For studying the anti-inflammatory effects of chicory terpenes, a physiologically relevant model of the inflamed intestinal mucosa was developed. Two particularly interesting chicory extracts were assessed and strong antimicrobial potential was observed – antifungal as well as antibacterial activity towards antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Finally, a new multi-ingredient process was investigated, based on a selective adsorption column for terpenes. A conceptual process design yielding capex/opex details indicated that the sales price for the terpene mixture is in line with specialty ingredient prices, in food supplements. Currently, three scientific papers are being prepared based on the results obtained partly in WP8.