Metabolic Engineering for Lower Cost Feedstocks


The Foundry’s enzyme discovery, pathway assembly, and high-throughput analytical capabilities enable organism engineers to build complex metabolic pathways in microorganisms.

These pathways are designed to produce cultured ingredients, break down materials, and improve performance of strains.

Racks of test tubes

The Challenge

A leading company in the field of industrial fermentation wished to significantly decrease their reliance on expensive feedstocks. Ginkgo was tasked with engineering and fine-tuning a complex metabolic pathway into a strain to assimilate a lower cost substrate.

Foundry Approach

The project required the synthesis, screening, and improvement of thousand-member enzyme libraries and the assembly of flux-balanced pathways to reroute carbon equivalents toward the specific product of interest.

Overall, Ginkgo leveraged its capabilities in DNA synthesis and high throughput screening to synthesize 109 million base pairs of DNA, screen 7,117 enzymes belonging to 12 enzyme classes, and evaluate 2,719 pathways, for a total of 30,445 strain tests.


After finding the genes expressing the most active enzymes and combining them with a library of Ginkgo-verified regulatory parts, we assembled the pathway in Ginkgo’s Foundry. By the conclusion of the project, the strain could assimilate the new feedstock nearly 25x more than the original strain.

Scaling down the size of each experiment enables Ginkgo’s organism engineers to automate strain construction at high-throughput.

In Summary

Strain tests

Base pairs of DNA synthesized
Enzymes screened
Pathways evaluated