Optimizing Alt-Seafood Production with AQUA Cultured Foods

Today we’re thrilled to announce our new partnership with AQUA Cultured Foods!

AQUA has chosen Ginkgo to help optimize its innovative fermentation technology to elevate the quality of its fish-free seafood products that authentically replicate the look, feel, and taste of fresh-caught seafood. Leveraging Ginkgo’s microbial characterization and analytics, along with AQUA’s proprietary strains and processes, the partners aim to transform the future of alt-seafood production.

AQUA is a leader in the alternative seafood industry, delivering products with the texture, taste, and appearance of fresh-caught seafood filets, without using any fish or animal inputs.

  • Their debut offerings, tuna, and scallops, maintain freshness and tenderness for six weeks.
  • Powered by a patent-pending fermentation process, which can be scaled on a global level, AQUA’s fish-free seafood is made from microbes and fibers combined with plant-derived flavors that replicate the buttery texture and umami notes found in fresh-caught seafood.
  • Unlike traditional seafood, AQUA’s products contain no contaminants, antibiotics, allergens, cholesterol or saturated fats, and can be consumed and enjoyed by those with diverse dietary needs, including pregnant people and those with shellfish allergies.

The AQUA team uses a consortium of microbes that work synergistically to make its appetizing and affordable products.

Ginkgo will leverage its high throughput next-generation sequencing and advanced analytics services to help optimize and tune AQUA’s strains to aid in the scale-up of their novel manufacturing process. With Ginkgo, AQUA hopes to amplify its R&D capabilities and further optimize its consortium to establish consistent, high-quality products.

Through this, AQUA envisions a future where its proprietary microbe consortium can be used to produce not just whole-cut and ground alt-seafood products, but also introduce unique flavors and textures to the broader food industry.

This inaugural partnership paves the way for future projects leveraging Ginkgo’s strain engineering capabilities as well.

AQUA’s fermentation process provides an alternative to fishing and fish farming.

Research shows that there are serious health risks associated with eating both wild-caught seafood from the ocean and farmed fish. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency states that contaminated fish are a persistent source of toxic polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and mercury in the human diet. Eating farmed fish comes with the added risk of consuming antibiotics and pesticides.

Both the fishing and fish farming industries cause detrimental environmental damage. Wild fisheries have been depleted worldwide, causing scientists to fear their impending collapse. Industrial fishing practices, such as bottom trawling and long-lining, affect endangered animals such as sea turtles, dolphins, and whales. Untreated waste from farmed fish — including excess feed, decomposing fish, excrement, and chemical residue — can pollute waterways and create toxic algal blooms that kill wild aquatic life. AQUA is confident that its products deliver the experience of eating seafood without the health or environmental risks associated with traditional seafood.

“Today marks a significant step towards revolutionizing alternative seafood production. AQUA’s commitment to sustainable seafood aligns with Ginkgo’s dedication to innovation. Our partnership aims to accelerate our technology, bringing our delicious products to market faster. With Ginkgo’s expertise in working with microbes, we are confident in optimizing and applying our technology to create the most delicious seafood products possible. Beyond sequencing, we envision engineering our proprietary consortium for next-gen products, pushing alt-seafood boundaries with unique textures and building the nutrition beyond a good source of fiber. We look forward to how our sustainable approach can revolutionize the fishing industry and contribute to the regeneration of our oceans.”

Stefan Baier, PhD, Chief Science Officer of AQUA Cultured Foods

We couldn’t be happier to partner with AQUA and get to work with their cutting-edge technology.

This collaboration aligns beautifully with our commitment to work on projects that embody innovation and sustainability. AQUA’s groundbreaking fermentation technology is reshaping the future of alt-seafood, and we at Ginkgo are thrilled to contribute to this transformative journey. Together, we’re paving the way for a more sustainable and responsible approach to meeting the world’s growing food demands.

AQUA will also be at Ginkgo’s annual Ferment conference this year on April 11th.

Baier will be presenting at the conference, and AQUA products will be available for conference attendees to taste.

Successful First Milestone to Produce Vibrant Natural Food Colors with Phytolon

We’ve successfully completed the first development milestone of our multi-product collaboration with Phytolon to produce natural food colors!

This achievement has resulted in the distribution of an equity milestone to Ginkgo.

Our partnership, which began in February 2022, aims to produce vibrant betalain pigments spanning the entire yellow-to-purple spectrum using cell engineering. The completion of our first milestone has unlocked the commercial potential of Phytolon’s yellow-to-purple palette and further established this broad and cost-efficient offering to its clients.

By leveraging Ginkgo Natural Product Services, Phytolon has significantly improved the efficiency of its yeast strains to generate these vibrant, sustainable colors and offer cost-efficient replacements to artificial dyes.

Phytolon’s naturally produced betalain pigments can be used throughout the food industry as safe, sustainable, and viable alternatives to synthetic dyes, which are facing increased scrutiny and bans. As governments continue to intensify regulations on synthetic dyes, consumers will increasingly seek out more sustainable and nature-derived products. By partnering with Ginkgo, Phytolon is in a strong position to scale their robust array of food colorants for the global market.

Phytolon soon expects to bring the full color palette enabled by these two new strains to market.

We will continue to work together under our existing agreement toward achieving additional milestones that further increase production efficiency.

“We are so excited to reach this key milestone with our partner, Ginkgo Bioworks. This achievement puts our colors at the forefront to efficiently replace artificial dyes in our food and create a healthy and sustainable world. Our clients are now able to explore high-performing natural colors in their brands, covering the full range from purple to pink, red, orange, and yellow shades.”

Tal Zeltzer, co-founder and CTO of Phytolon

We’re proud to be a driving force behind the realization of this milestone and the R&D breakthroughs it represents. Ginkgo Natural Product Services have enabled Phytolon’s products to be competitive worldwide and create a broader palette of options for the industry. We’re happy to be able to provide innovators like Phytolon with our services and give access to our codebase to accelerate their product development. As we celebrate this success, we look forward to sustaining this momentum to further enhance the performance of Phytolon’s products.

Learn more about Ginkgo Natural Product Services at https://www.ginkgobioworks.com/offerings/natural-products-services/.

And read Ginkgo’s whitepaper on the Bioproduction of Aromatic Molecules at https://www.ginkgobioworks.com/offerings/whitepaper-bioproduction-of-aromatic-molecules/.

Vivici Selects Ginkgo Bioworks to Extend Their Range of Novel Dairy Proteins

Today, we’re thrilled to announce our new collaboration with Vivici!

Vivici is an innovative B2B ingredients startup company using precision fermentation to make animal-free dairy proteins. Through this collaboration, Vivici will leverage Ginkgo’s extensive capabilities in strain engineering, optimization and performance, to develop and commercialize a next generation of functional alternative protein.

Alternative Dairy Protein Production with Precision Fermentation

Vivici is on a mission to meet the world’s growing need for sustainable, nutritious and great tasting proteins. Recognizing the need for alternatives to traditional animal agriculture, Vivici employs precision fermentation techniques to produce animal-free dairy proteins with microorganisms. This innovative approach not only supplements the existing animal protein supply, but also paves the way for a more sustainable food system in the future.

Ginkgo’s Tech Solution: Strain Development at Foundry Scale

Ginkgo plans to support Vivici by delivering optimized strains for dairy protein production via precision fermentation. We intend to design and build an integrated library, screen for strains with the best protein expression, validate and grow the most promising hits, and then transfer the top performing strains to Vivici for evaluation. The aim is for these strains to enable optimal protein expression, superior functionality, and commercial-level titers.

“We are thrilled to collaborate with Ginkgo. Ginkgo’s scale and AI-driven approach to designing strains for protein expression is a differentiated offering. We are confident in Ginkgo’s capabilities to provide efficient, scalable strains that can support Vivici’s speed to market.”

Stephan van Sint Fiet, Vivici CEO

We’re so excited to support Vivici in its vision of meeting growing demand for animal-free protein alternatives. We’re here to help Vivici deliver on the promise that precision fermentation can lead to planet-friendly nutrition. We believe our speed and experience with dairy protein development, ultra high throughput screening, and fermentation scale-up can enable Vivici to successfully expand their current protein portfolio and bring new solutions to market. We’re eager to help Vivici enter the market as a provider of sustainable and nutritious animal-free protein solutions to a wide range of customers.

What will you grow with Ginkgo?

Developing Dairy Proteins with QL AG

We’re thrilled to announce our partnership with QL AG to develop dairy proteins!

QL AG will tap into Ginkgo’s extensive capabilities in strain engineering to support its goal of providing the market with high-quality nutritionally equivalent dairy proteins.

The alternative dairy market has grown by tens of billions of dollars in recent years.

Yet, current dairy alternatives still fall short of consumer criteria on critical factors like taste and texture.

“By accessing Ginkgo’s platform, QL AG can help reduce the cost of producing dairy proteins with fermentation. We are excited to pursue our goal of making a quantum leap in alternative agriculture by leveraging Ginkgo’s unique capabilities in producing strains at high titers and scaling fermentation processes.”

—Roger Föhn, CEO and co-founder of QL AG

Dairy proteins provide an exciting opportunity to leverage our platform, as they have traditionally presented product developers with significant challenges around protein productivity, economics, and functionality for efficacy across different applications. We aim to solve such challenges with our deep expertise in protein engineering, novel bioactivity and biochemistry identification, high-throughput expression, functional studies and scale-up capabilities.

To learn more about Ginkgo Protein Production Services, please visit https://www.ginkgobioworks.com/offerings/protein-services/.

Find the full press release here along with all of the latest news from the Ginkgo team.

What will you grow with Ginkgo?

Enhancing Meaty Taste of Mycoprotein with Nosh.bio


Today we’re so excited to announce a new partnership with Nosh.bio, a German startup developing highly functional ingredients from fungal biomass for animal-free products. Nosh.bio will leverage our Ginkgo Strain Optimization Services to screen for protein-producing fungi strains with superior sensorial profiles. By leveraging Ginkgo’s ultra high throughput encapsulated screening capabilities, the program aims to produce a mycoprotein that delivers a rich, savory, and natural meaty taste when used in food products.

The Challenges with Animal-Free Protein

Companies developing animal-free protein still face challenges in creating tastier, less processed, and affordable alternative-protein products. Nosh.bio has built a technological platform that uses fungal biomass to create animal-free single-ingredient animal meat alternatives from mycoprotein for human nutrition.

For meat-alternatives, red meat — like a juicy steak — remains the most challenging product to be developed, and current alternatives contain many ingredients and chemical additives. Nosh.bio aims to leverage their highly efficient, sustainable, and cost-effective production process to create a single-ingredient animal-free product that tastes and feels just like red meat, while being healthier than an animal product.

Ginkgo Strain Optimization Services

To enable this advanced alt-protein product, Ginkgo aims to discover and deliver a strain of fungi with higher native proteins involved in achieving the rich meat taste, juiciness, and color that Nosh.bio is seeking. To do so, we plan to execute a mutagenesis and screening campaign with our proprietary encapsulation and screening technology (EncapS). This can make it possible to search through up to 1 million strain variants in a single run and select the best performing candidates for further development. Using such an improved strain can help Nosh.bio develop a mycoprotein that is superior in taste, color, performance, and nutrition.

“Nosh.bio is eager to enable the transition from animal-based to animal-free products. Our affordable, high quality plant-based ingredients can build a product that’s even closer to meat in taste and texture than alt-protein options currently on the market,” said Tim Fronzek, CEO and Co-Founder of Nosh.bio. “What really excites us about partnering with Ginkgo is their accelerated screening technology that can help us pinpoint and develop a super ‘meaty’ mycoprotein.”

Leveling Up the Alt-Meat Protein Industry

We’re thrilled to partner with Nosh.bio and help level-up the alt-meat protein industry to deliver sustainable products that taste closer to real meat than ever before. Our proprietary encapsulation and screening technology can expeditiously deliver valuable insights that enable our partners to optimize their R&D efforts and overall product.

To learn more about Ginkgo Strain Optimization Services, please visit https://www.ginkgobioworks.com/offerings/strain-optimization-services/.

Find the full press release here along with all of the latest news from the Ginkgo team.

What will you grow with Ginkgo?

Virtual Event: Functional Food Proteins with Microbial Expression Systems

Watch the Event

A recording of the Virtual Event, Functional Food Proteins with Microbial Expression Systems, is available here.


Foundry Services for Functional Proteins

On June 30th, Ginkgo hosted a live virtual event to present our latest strain engineering capabilities for food proteins and enzymes. These capabilities support our offering of R&D services for the nutrition and wellness industry and are relevant for anyone seeking to produce functional protein ingredients with precision fermentation.

Strain Matters: Pichia and Aspergillus

The event featured two of our favorite microbial production hosts, Pichia pastoris and Aspergillus niger. Both of these strains have long been favored for protein and enzyme production because of their high productivity, food-safe regulatory status and ability to grow on low-cost feedstocks.

But not all strains of yeast and fungi can perform at the level required for food ingredient production at scale. A key message of the event was that your strain matters: choosing the correct expression host for your protein product can speed up your development times and decrease your final production costs.

Ginkgo offers proprietary strains of Pichia and Aspergillus that can address many of the common challenges of food protein or enzyme production. Two featured presentations during the event described the relative strengths of each strain and a case study in which the strain delivered for a particular customer’s performance requirements.

Pichia is often preferred as a base strain for its easy engineerability and large genetic toolbox. Andrea Camattari, Senior Director of Organism Engineering, presented a recent project in which Pichia was adapted to produce an iron-binding food protein, using proprietary methanol-free expression systems (20-fold higher expression than methanol based promoters). Several strategies were employed to improve the expression and the localization of the needed cofactors, resulting in a host strain that far exceeded the customer’s production targets.

Aspergillus can produce certain classes of proteins at extraordinarily high titer (120 g/L or higher), but has historically been limited in large-scale fermentations because of its high viscosity. Peter Punt, Distinguished Organism Engineer and Guest Professor at Leiden University, described Ginkgo’s proprietary low-viscosity, proteases knocked-out and “clean” background Aspergillus that can produce food proteins and enzymes in high titer.

Technology Matters: Ginkgo’s Foundry

Strain engineering at Ginkgo, whether in Pichia, Aspergillus, or another host organism, is an integrated process that benefits from the full stack of cell programming technologies available on our foundry platform. Sneha Srikrishnan, Director of Growth, surveyed a range of technological capabilities that we can deploy for a customer’s project.

Metagenomic Protein Discovery: For projects seeking a particular function or enzyme activity, but without a precisely defined sequence, Ginkgo offers a large in-house discovery library of more than 2 billion genes. This library is substantially larger than public repositories and enables the discovery of previously undescribed functional proteins and enzymes.

ML-Guided Protein Engineering: Enzyme Intelligence™ is Ginkgo’s platform for protein engineering employing generative AI and structure-based design. Our protein engineering team is distinguished by the depth of their experience, having delivered dozens of projects across a range of applications, and the large datasets they can access through Ginkgo’s experimental and assay capabilities.

Industry-Leading Automation: Ginkgo has invested almost half a billion dollars in foundry infrastructure, including an expansive robotics platform for automated DNA assembly, transformation, and strain characterization. Data-rich enzyme engineering projects are needed to make the most of data-hungry ML software. High-throughput strategies that can discover rare high-performance variants that can be missed with low-throughput approaches.

Phenotypic Selection with EncapS: The EncapS (Encapsulation and Screening) system allows up to one million strain variants to be characterized in a single campaign. The ultra-high-throughput technology uses microfluidics to package cells in nanoliter-scale droplets, allowing measurement and optimization of secreted protein production. As a screening technique, EncapS can enable strain improvement even without targeted genetic modifications.

Experience Matters: Success-Based Pricing

The depth of Ginkgo’s experience in protein and enzyme production projects gives us a unique confidence in our ability to meet our customers’ performance targets. Alyssa Blaize, Director of Growth, presented our new Success-Based Pricing model as a way for Ginkgo to “put our money where our mouth is” and to allow our customers to directly benefit from that experience.

Projects that are covered by Success-Based Pricing include enzyme discovery, protein engineering and production optimization projects that are determined to have a high probability of success. Ginkgo and our partner work together to set the performance targets for a particular project. If the performance targets aren’t met, the customer pays no R&D fees.

This presentation included more details about the Success-Based Pricing model and a project flowchart highlighting decision points and cost structures at each phase. With Success-Based Pricing, customers are able to lower their technical risk and minimize their financial exposure to the traditional uncertainties of biology R&D.

Optimizing Enzyme Expression and Performance with Zymtronix

Optimizing enzymes for Zymtronix’s cell-free manufacturing platform

Today we are pleased to announce our partnership with Zymtronix, a developer of cell-free process technologies. Together we aim to optimize enzymes used in Zymtronix’s proprietary cell-free platform for the production of important ingredients in food, agriculture, cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

Enzymatic biocatalysis is a powerful manufacturing technology that can enable the production of a wide range of chemicals and molecules. Zymtronix’s cell-free platform is designed to solve challenges associated with traditional biocatalysis and seeks to enable the production of a wide range of products with precision and productivity. By partnering with us to build and produce bioengineered market-ready enzymes, Zymtronix anticipates being able to extend its solutions into the pharma, nutrition, agriculture markets, among others.

Zymtronix aims to leverage Ginkgo Enzyme Services to discover, optimize, and produce enzymes

Ginkgo Enzyme Services offers partners end-to-end support for the discovery, optimization, and production of enzymes for diverse applications. Through the partnership, we will leverage our suite of enzyme services to engineer enzymes for Zymtronix’s applications using metagenomic enzyme discovery as well as improve enzyme expression and production host performance.

We’re thrilled to welcome Zymtronix to the platform and support their applications in sustainable ingredients and beyond. We’ve built out our platform to serve a wide variety of enzyme discovery, engineering, optimization and scale up efforts, and we’re so excited for the work to come in this partnership. Zymtronix’s cell-free biomanufacturing platform is pioneering solutions for various industries, and we’re eager to leverage our end-to-end capabilities and help expand its efforts in transforming the way enzymes are used.

“This partnership will greatly accelerate our work of bringing the precision and scalability of cell-free biomanufacturing and sustainable ingredients to market starting with alternatives to animal sources; Ginkgo is uniquely able to support us with both enzyme engineering and strain expression, helping us continue to accelerate commercialization,” said Stéphane Corgié, CEO-CTO and founder, Zymtronix. “We hope to extend this partnership in the future to facilitate the production of multiple end-market products.”

To learn more about Ginkgo Enzyme Services, please visit ginkgobioworks.com/enzyme-services/.

Find the full press release here along with all of the latest news from the Ginkgo team.

What will you grow with Ginkgo?

Better Baby Formula with NAMUH

Ginkgo will develop and optimize strains to produce functional oligosaccharides for NAMUH’s infant nutrition products

Today, we are pleased to announce a multi-product collaboration with NAMUH, an infant nutrition company, to develop functional oligosaccharides that are structurally identical to those found in human breast milk.

NAMUH’s mission is to create complete infant formula products substantially comparable to human breast milk, down to the molecular level. Human Milk Oligosaccharides (HMOs) are essential fiber-like nutrients unique to human milk that provide an important energy source to beneficial gut bacteria in infants. Despite being the third most abundant component in human milk, HMOs are currently a small component in infant formulas, if present at all.

Producing HMOs through yeast fermentation

Currently, NAMUH’s proprietary technology provides for a cost-effective source of a family of HMOs via yeast fermentation. NAMUH will leverage Ginkgo’s expertise in yeast strain engineering and fermentation process development through this partnership. Our aim is to enable the production of various HMOs through yeast fermentation and to unlock the possibility of making infant formula nutritionally robust and much closer to human breast milk.

NAMUH plans to leverage Ginkgo’s platform to develop and optimize strains

“Consumer demand for high quality, safe, infant nutrition products is growing, and NAMUH is thrilled to partner with Ginkgo to accelerate our market entry into this rapidly evolving category,” said Dr. Chaeyoung Shin, founder and CEO at NAMUH. “We believe engineering biology is the perfect way to produce crucial nutrients for babies, and together with Ginkgo, we are excited to play a key role in improving how future generations are fed.”

We seek out partners like NAMUH that are using biology to create category-leading products in legacy industries. Countless families around the world rely on infant formula every day, and we are thrilled to be working with NAMUH as they aim to create a healthier, safer formula that parents can depend on.

Find the full press release here along with all of the latest news from the Ginkgo team.

What will you grow with Ginkgo?

Celebrating Cronos Group’s First-of-a-Kind CBC Product

Cronos Unveils its New CBC Product, the Spinach FEELZ™ Day Trip Gummies with THC+CBC, Developed on the Ginkgo Platform

We’re so excited to congratulate our customer Cronos – an innovative global cannabinoid company – for launching a CBC-focused product, the Spinach FEELZ™ THC+CBC Day Trip Mango Lime gummies, utilizing our platform for organism design and development.

The Spinach FEELZ™ Day Trip gummies are the first CBC gummy product in Canada and the first of its kind to feature a 3:1 ratio of CBC to THC. The product is currently available in Alberta and British Columbia and will be rolled out to additional provinces over the coming weeks:

  • SPINACH FEELZ™ THC+CBC DAY TRIP GUMMIES: Grab your bag, your friends and get going! A new day’s adventure awaits with Spinach FEELZ™ Day Trip gummies. From sun-up to sun-down, feel at ease and in tune with all the scents, sights, and sounds this glorious world has to offer. These one-of-a-kind THC+CBC gummies are packed with delicious mango-lime flavors and are sure to make for good times with friends. Five sour-then-sweet gummies with 10mg of THC and 30mg of CBC per pack.

What will you grow with Ginkgo?

Sustainable Beauty and Personal Care Products with Sumitomo Chemical

Ginkgo and Sumitomo Chemical aim to create products that will bring significant benefits to consumers by supplying an ingredient that is animal-free and more sustainable than what’s currently on the market.

Ginkgo Bioworks started working with Sumitomo Chemical Co., Ltd, one of Japan’s leading chemical companies, in June 2021 to help significantly increase the production efficiency and sustainability of bio-based commercial products across a broad array of industries. Today, we’re pleased to announce a second collaboration. The new project plans to target a molecule intended to enable the introduction of more sustainable and cost-competitive products in the personal care and cosmetic industries. This molecule is envisioned to augment or replace an ingredient that is currently gathered from animal sources—a process which is not sustainable and also unappealing to many consumers—by producing it via fermentation instead.

What if you could grow ingredients instead of using animal sources?

“The cosmetics industry is demanding more sustainable and cost-competitive beauty and personal care products, as are many others we serve and we see tremendous potential in synthetic biology’s ability to make this possible at a commercial scale,” said Hiroshi Ueda, Executive Vice President of Sumitomo Chemical. “We’re encouraged by the progress of our ongoing first project with Ginkgo, and we believe it’s clear from how well our teams collaborate that we will also be able to find success within additional product areas as well. Through this project, we aim to build our own capability on fermentation production with, active involvement of our new organization SynBio Hub.”

Ginkgo’s platform provides unique advantages thanks to its growing codebase.

Not only is this project a natural fit for Ginkgo’s platform, but it provides the perfect opportunity to leverage and showcase our growing codebase. Ginkgo has prior experience developing a precursor molecule to the one Sumitomo Chemical is currently targeting. The data and experience Ginkgo has on this precursor molecule has significantly accelerated our current program with Sumitomo Chemical, possibly saving Sumitomo Chemical multiple years off its development timeline.

Find the full press release here along with all of the latest news from the Ginkgo team.