Bioeconomy Science Center
Forschung und Kooperation für nachhaltige Bioökonomie
Bioeconomy Science Center
Forschung und Kooperation für nachhaltige Bioökonomie
BOOST FUND Projekt PhytaPhoS

Optimizing the Phosphorus cycle in the sugar beet production process by phytase supplement


Depleting phosphorus resources are demanding new strategies for an efficient use of this essential nutrient. Therefore, especially phosphorus cycles in agriculture have to be closed. In sugar production this could be achieved in existing production processes by supplementing thermally resistant phytases.
Within the project PhytaPhoS these thermally resistant (Tm 80-90°C) phytases will be will be developed. They will be supplemented within the sugar extraction process to leach the phytate phosphate from sugar beet slices. With this procedure the P concentration in sugar beet slices and the export of phosphorous to areas with high animal density and P excess in fields will be reduced. Instead, isolated phosphorus will be transferred into spent lime and subsequently back to the sugar beet fields. The BioSC collaboration project PhytaPhoS will assess and evaluate the potential of P recovery employing phytase, its feasibility and economic approaches from lab scale to field application.

Closing nutrient cycles in sugar production. Flow of phosphorus without (left) and with use of a thermally stable phytase (right).

Impact on Bioeconomy
Phosphate is an essential element of fertilizers; therefore recycling concepts for phosphorus are a key request to avoid rapid depletion of concentrated natural deposits and for optimizing fertilizer use. The PhytaPhoS proposal matches NRW´s bio economy strategy by employing a biotechnological produced enzyme in an existing production process to develop a valuable phosphate stream. Furthermore PhytaPhoS contributes to a significant reduction of the phosphorus surplus in animal production, which is extremely high in northern NRW.

Expected results/ project products
PhytaPhoS will develop thermally stable phytase that can be added to the extraction process running at 50 - 80°C and maximize phytate transformation when using phytase. P-Fractions in sugar beet and spent lime will be characterized. It will be ensured that phosphorus enriched- spent lime can be recycled to sugar beet fields and that that the implementation of phytase in sugar production process has an ecological and economical benefit by mass flow and cost benefit analysis.

Participating Core Groups

Prof. Dr. Mathias Becker, Prof. Dr. Heiner Goldbach, Dr. Ute Arnold, Dr. Manfred Trimborn; Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (INRES), Plant nutrition; University of Bonn
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schurr, Dr. Nicolai Jablonowski, Institute of Bio- and Geosciences IBG-2: Plant Sciences, Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH
Prof. Dr. Ulrich Schwaneberg, Prof. Dr. A. Pich, Dr. Anna Joelle Ruff; Institute of Biotechnology (Bio VI, Biotechnology); RWTH Aachen University.


Prof. Dr. Mathias Becker; Institute of Crop Science and Resource Conservation (INRES), Plant nutrition; University of Bonn


Dr. Manfred Trimborn, INRES - Pflanzenernährung
University of Bonn
Karlrobert-Kreiten-str. 13
53359 Bonn
phone: +49 (0) 228 – 73 3639

Project duration
01.04.2015 – 31.03.2018

Funding budget
The total budget of PhytaPhoS is € 675.160. PhytaPhoS is part of the NRW-Strategieprojekt BioSC and thus funded by the Ministry of Innovation, Science and Research of the German State of North Rhine-Westphalia.