IFSCC exclusive: Plant endophytes as a potential new and sustainable microbiome skin care ingredient

By Kirsty Doolan

- Last updated on GMT

Conifers are just one of the many potential sources of endophytes
Conifers are just one of the many potential sources of endophytes

Related tags Innovation Technology Skin care Sustainability microbiome green beauty Skin health sustainable beauty Ingredients

We spoke to David Manzano Provital’s R&I Manager who led the discovery…

Green technologies are at the forefront of the 33rd​ annual IFSCC congress in Barcelona this September and Spanish ingredients company Provital shared its latest development on the use of plant symbiotes as a new source of biomolecules with cosmetic applications.

Plants produce many metabolites, but these are often only synthesised in small amounts, which means vast amounts of plant biomass is needed to make the process economically and ecologically viable.

Provital’s new research around plant endophytes (symbiotic microorganisms that live inside plants and aid their growth and development) has enabled the company to successfully develop a novel platform for the isolation and biotechnological production of these as a sustainable source of natural, traceable cosmetic actives.

The company’s new research has shown that endophytes can be explored as ‘bio-factories’ of natural bioactive compounds.

Bringing a new concept to the table

David Manzano, Provital’s R&I Manager, who led the discovery, said:

“We have developed an interesting platform to isolate actives from a totally different natural source. Everyone knows about the microbiome and its impact on human health, but what’s lesser known is the microbiome of plants.”

He continued: “Endophytes are internal microbiome of plants and are symbiotic and very important for plant defence and survival. We are doing this systematic approach for the first time; to develop cosmetics from this specific microbiome of plants. I think is going to be a new concept.”

Manzano explained that endophytes live inside the plants and can be either fungi or bacteria. They show potential as a previously untapped sustainable cosmetics ingredient. 

“We extract the microorganisms and can grow them under controlled conditions, so it’s more sustainable than to have a mass of plants to get the same amount of actives. Therefore, there is novelty; new concepts in terms of natural trends and sustainability.”

Many new applications for skin care

The company’s research took place in two stages. For the first part, it isolated a specific collection of endophytic strains. Then, it screened bio actives through metabolomic, bioinformatics and in vitro analysis to find the best candidates for more developments.

Manzano shared: “We have isolated endophytes from seven different plant species, including medicinal plants, conifers and fern.​ This is the first, which comes from a fermented extract of endophytic yeast, Kwoniella mangroviensis. We have developed the culture and have some gentle microbiome modulation, plus it also protects from pollution and prevents the inflammatory response provoked by pollution.”

He continued: “We have also done a transcriptomic analysis on fibroblasts to test its anti-ageing effect. We compared fibroblasts incubated with and without the actives and we have analysed the expression of the genes for the whole genome of the transcriptome of the cells. We have quantified the levels of collagen and elastin and can see there is an increase of this. Therefore, it gives gentle modulation of the microbiome, anti-ageing and anti-pollution effects.”

In summary, the promising results included:

  • Metabolomic analysis of K mangroviensis​ ferment extract to show the presence of bioactive secondary metabolites with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory bioactivities.
  • In vitro proof on the modulation of the microbiome balance in a reconstructed 3D skin model.
  • Anti-pollution effects were shown in human keratinocytes when exposed to urban dust.
  • RNA-Seq whole-transcriptome analysis showed capacity to induce the formation of extracellular matrix in human dermal fibroblasts – indicating several protecting and pro-ageing activities.

Manzano said Provital is now working on other projects for different potential benefits. “There are many potential applications for skin care​,” he concluded.

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