Team RoSynth is engineering a biosynthesis system for optimizing the production of in-demand plant-derived drugs. Our workflow will be especially effective for drug production processes requiring copious amounts of labor and limited by plant availability. Our team is addressing the limitations of traditional biosynthesis techniques by designing a 3D bioprinter capable of printing microbe-laden hydrogels, utilizing an engineered bacteria and yeast hydrogel co-culture system for more efficient synthesis of plant compounds to improve product yield. As a proof of concept, we are synthesizing rosmarinic acid, a small molecule with vast therapeutic and culinary applications, with the objective of expanding our project to synthesize additional crucial plant-derived compounds using an ethical, efficient synthetic biology approach.
Our project employs 3D-printed cultures of E. coli and S. cerevisiae in adjacent hydrogels that are submerged in media, allowing pathway intermediates to pass between the bacteria and yeast hydrogels for synthesis of rosmarinic acid. Existing, individual bacteria and yeast-based systems for the production of plant-derived chemicals such as rosmarinic acid possess major limitations. This curbs the organisms’ growth, and ultimately production efficiency. Using a co-culture distributes the metabolic load between bacteria and yeast for improved synthesis efficacy. Additionally, co-culturing the organisms exploits their individual strengths: Bacteria tend to synthesize smaller molecules more efficiently while yeast is more effective in assembling smaller molecules into a larger product. One of the drawbacks, however, of using a bacteria and yeast co-culture is that the bacteria outcompete the yeast over time. Thus, our solution to print the bacteria and yeast populations within separate hydrogels prevents the bacterial culture’s invasion of yeast and preserves biological containment. Our first home-built, two-channel 3D bioprinter will provide a model for utilizing microbe-laden hydrogel systems for inexpensive and customizable synthesis.
Check out our team's promotional video below!
Best Biomanufacturing Project