‘Smart’ Microbial Cell Biosensor Technology

High throughput screening platform for enzymes, pathways and strains

While the ‘Design’ and ‘Build’ steps of the DBTL cycle for bio-based products can be high throughput, the ‘Test’ step often remains a bottleneck due the to low efficiency of current screening technologies.

We have developed Smart Microbial Cell technology that uses a custom-designed sensor-reporter system to screen for a given small molecule of interest (value-added chemical, industrial precursor) in the host strain harboring variations in a single gene, or a pathway, or at the genome level.

Based on the production efficiency of the enzyme/pathway/strain (determined by genotype), there is a correlated response from the sensor-reporter system (phenotype), offering an easy screening technique using flow cytometry or by simply plating the strain on a solid phase and visualizing under an illuminator.

This capability provides the ability to incorporate computational protein design to engineer sensors or intelligent library design for the evolution of enzymes. The existing capability enhances the efficiency of the ‘Test’ step of DBTL cycle for bio-based products. Product strains can be optimized in a high throughput manner. 102-106 variants can be screened in a single day.

This technology was a 2020 R&D 100 Award Winner.

  • Los Alamos National Laboratory