Crop Biotech Update

AI Enhances Precision Fermentation of Yeast

March 8, 2023

Scientists from the Imperial College London are using artificial intelligence (AI) to optimize yeast strains and enhance precision fermentation. They aim to maximize the technology's full potential in pharmaceuticals and food production.

Precision fermentation uses genetically engineered yeasts and other microorganisms to create customized molecules of all sorts. The technology has gained popularity among start-up companies that want to use it to develop low-value products. But this requires producing a very high yield of yeast strain to make it commercially viable. The traditional process of trial and error to decide which changes in the yeast strain will work best for a given substance plus testing all their possible combinations make it impossible. Hence, the scientists turned to AI.

Using AI in precision fermentation involves both laboratory work and bioinformatics. The AI recommends a series of edits to the microorganism genome, which are carried out through genetic engineering. At the current capacity, the machine tests about a thousand edit combinations per run. The results are fed back to the machine to make further suggested edits and testing. As the process is conducted repeatedly, the machine obtains more data. The data serve as a guide to keep on improving the yield until the final product is released.

Currently, the main focus of the technology is on yeast. But plans will allow scientists to expand to lipids and other biological products.

Read more details in the news article by Imperial College London.

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