Scaling Up Production of Brazzein, a Novel Sweetener, with GreenLab

To scale up its production of brazzein, GreenLab will leverage its proprietary technology to grow proteins inside corn kernels, optimizing its process with Ginkgo’s Plant Trait Services, Protein Services, and Deployment Capabilities

We’re thrilled about our latest collaboration with GreenLab, to enable the commercial scale production of brazzein, a sweet-tasting protein found in the fruit of the native West African Oubli plant. Ginkgo and GreenLab have previously partnered on a project to develop an enzyme for GreenLab’s PFAS degradation application.

The global sugar replacement market is growing due to increased consumer demand. Sugar substitutes can help manage obesity, but some artificial sweeteners have been linked to various health issues including heart disease. Novel sweeteners — like brazzein, which has a sweetness factor up to 2,000 times greater than sucrose — can be used as natural substitutes for sugar in products across the food and beverage industry.

GreenLab hopes to revolutionize the sweetener industry with brazzein. Its proprietary technology allows it to grow enzymes and other proteins inside of corn kernels. By producing proteins in a cultivated crop, GreenLab can readily scale production across acres of cornfields, with little additional up-front capital and infrastructure. After the protein of interest is extracted from the kernel with minimal waste, most of the corn used will then proceed along the existing value chain, including food, feed or fuel. Thanks to its proprietary technology, GreenLab currently has two transformative enzymes in commercial production, including manganese peroxidase and laccase, and has already successfully grown corn containing brazzein.

GreenLab is leveraging Ginkgo’s capabilities to scale up its production of brazzein in three ways:

  • One, using Ginkgo Plant Trait Services to improve GreenLab’s expression of brazzein in the corn kernel to achieve economically-competitive levels.
  • Two, using Ginkgo Protein Services to express brazzein in a microbial chassis via precision fermentation.
  • And three, using Ginkgo Deployment Capabilities to develop downstream processes to purify brazzein from both the corn kernel and fermentation broth.

By pursuing these pathways to brazzein production, GreenLab intends to be the preeminent supplier of brazzein to food and beverage companies, all while reducing market and technical risk.

Karen Wilson, CEO of GreenLab: “GreenLab is eager to work with Ginkgo on this novel go-to-market strategy. By using Ginkgo Plant Trait Services, Protein Services and Deployment Capabilities we will be able to satisfy the demand for brazzein in the market with less risk using Ginkgo’s success based pricing model. Our existing partnership with Ginkgo has enabled this unique R&D approach for a product (brazzein) that the market desperately wants.”

Sneha Srikrishnan, Senior Director of Business Development and Product Lead, Proteins, at Ginkgo Bioworks: “Our existing relationship with GreenLab has had many positive outcomes, so it made sense to continue working together! We’re thrilled to build upon our partnership and get started on this new program.”

Brennan Duty, Senior Director of Business Development and Product Lead, Plant Traits, at Ginkgo Bioworks added: “Together, we aim to unlock the full potential of brazzein and help create healthier alternatives to traditional sweeteners. We look forward to getting to work and combining Ginkgo’s expertise in protein expression and optimization in plants and microbes alike with GreenLab’s innovative approach to plant biotechnology.”

Learn more about Ginkgo’s Plant Trait Services, Protein Services, and Deployment Capabilities.

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