Sphere Fluidics’ platform chosen to accelerate synthetic biology and metabolic workflows

Published: 22-Jun-2023

Platform selected to accelerate precision fermentation workflows, to support more sustainable and cost-effective manufacturing for active ingredients in vitamins and bioactives

Sphere Fluidics has announced that Biosyntia, a biotechnology company focused on synthetic biology and metabolic engineering, has adopted the Pico-Mine platform within its workflows.

The platform was chosen by Biosyntia to harness its ultra-high-throughput, picodroplet-based screening capabilities, to accelerate development of novel industrially-relevant cell factories and advance bio-based production of nutritional ingredients.

By developing tailored processes based on biocatalysis, Biosyntia’s technologies enable production of complex chemical compounds by fermentation, to support more sustainable and cost-effective manufacturing processes for active ingredients in vitamins and plant-derived bioactives. One of the company’s unique approaches to develop state-of-the-art cell factories for precision fermentation is the use of genetically encoded biosensors. 

However, traditional uses of these tools, such as flow cytometry cell sorting, are based on sensing internal product concentrations. Droplet-based screening capable with Sphere Fluidics’ picodroplet incubation platforms allows miniaturisation of the fermentation process to the nanoliter scale, with direct sensing of extracellular product concentrations, and easy single cell isolation of improved production strains.

Our Pico-Mine system provides scientists with the ultimate flexibility to adapt picodroplet technology to their individual research needs

- Ravi Girdhar, Director of Sales - EMEA, Sphere Fluidics

Within the first months of using the Pico-Mine platform with Biosyntia’s proprietary B-vitamin biosensor, the company has been able to identify improved genetic variants of its leading B-vitamin production strain at unprecedented speeds, which are now in upscaling processes for precision fermentation of sustainable and natural B vitamins. The technology will be applied to further molecules, beyond B-vitamins, and will be fundamental to Biosyntia's R&D strategy moving forward.

Pico-Mine is a semi-automated platform from Sphere Fluidics’ range of single cell analysis systems, designed with additional flexibility to support earlier-stage research, harnessing the company’s proprietary picodroplet technology. It facilitates multiple custom-built functions to be integrated into complex workflows, including cell encapsulation in picodroplets and subsequent incubation, splitting, injection and sorting. Pico-Mine enables precise analysis and sorting of large libraries in a matter of hours, at low cost.

Hans Genee, Chief Scientific Officer and Co-Founder, Biosyntia, commented: “With the advent of Synthetic Biology, the introduction of genetic diversity in microbes has become routine. However, the identification of rare and improved phenotypes, such as vitamin production and secretion, from a large mutant library remains a challenge and a general bottleneck for the industrial biotechnology industry. Picodroplet screening is a game-changer and with Sphere Fluidics’ Pico-Mine in our lab, we are now able to test 1,000-fold more strains within the same timeframe and with a fraction of the resources. From what I have already seen, I expect to see significant impact across a wider portfolio of projects.”

Ravi Girdhar, Director of Sales - EMEA, Sphere Fluidics, added: “Our Pico-Mine system provides scientists with the ultimate flexibility to adapt picodroplet technology to their individual research needs. We have worked collaboratively with the Biosyntia team to support and drive forward their R&D goals, enabling them to explore genetic diversity at unprecedented speeds. It is very exciting to see these results already being realised and we expect many more to come.”

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