Basic Research: Determine the spectrum of chemistry that can be produced biologically

Translational Research: Shorten the strain design and development process

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability focuses its activities on the development and expansion of the concept of microbial cell factories through basic research in microbial cell physiology powered by an integration of state-of-the-art high-throughput technologies with genome-scale models.

Furthermore, the Center seeks to increase the chemical diversity of the products which may be produced in microbes by harnessing the chemical diversity of the 99.9 % of microbes that cannot be cultivated in a laboratory through metagenomics. The extensive chemical diversity found in the plant kingdom is integrated by dedicated research on plant biochemistry and genetics.

This triumvirate of increased chemical diversity, in silico design and an expanded cell factory portfolio defines the next generation of microbial cell factories, which will be instrumental in the transition to the bio-based society.

Core Paradigm:

There are three key technological drivers that have changed microbial cell factory design over the past decade:

  1. Genome sequencing
  2. Gene manipulation systems 
  3. Genome-scale models

These drivers in addition to an assortment of molecular biology and automation tools form the basis for an iterative process consisting of four principal steps:

  1. Genetic manipulation 
  2. Phenotyping 
  3. Omics data generation 
  4. Mapping on to genome-scale models for analysis and decision making --> genetic mainpulation.... etc.

This closed loop design process requires an integration of a suite of experimental and computational methods; a suite that needs to be continually developed and implemented.
This iterative process represents the core paradigm and the organisational principle of the Center; namely the design, construction and optimisation of production strains.

The inputs into the iterative design loop are compounds and their pathways in addition to the platform strains into which the design is built.