Ginkgo Bioworks engineers organisms like yeast, putting biotech to work making ingredients like lactones for perfume producer Robertet. “Because many yeasts already produce lactones, [for this project] we designed the yeast to produce the lactones more efficiently,” Christina Agapakis, creative director at Ginkgo Bioworks told Cosmetics Design when that project was announced.
“As yeast grows, it ferments sugar into alcohol and many of the flavors that are found in beer. By engineering the yeast with enzymes from plants,” she explained, “our strains can produce different flavors and fragrances, which can then be extracted from the cells and used in perfumes and other products.”
To do this sort of work Ginkgo needs millions of base pairs of synthetic DNA (which is made up of gene-length de novo sequences). And, that’s where Twist Bioscience comes in.
The deal, announced today by San Francisco–based Twist Bioscience, has the company delivering a minimum of 400 million base pairs of synthetic DNA to Ginkgo by December 2017.
Ginkgo and Twist have worked together before. In fact, Ginkgo was one of the company’s Beta access customers. “We've already received millions of bases on-time and on-spec from Twist Bioscience in the first several months of our partnership,” Jason Kelly, CEO and co-founder of Ginkgo Bioworks, tells the press. “We're excited about how quickly they're scaling their DNA synthesis technology and infrastructure that we're already tripling our order for next year.”
And in the future
Ginkgo sees outsourced in vitro DNA construction as the way forward. “If your company is still cloning by hand you're missing out on a big opportunity,” says Kelly.
And the relationship with Twist is shaping up to be a lasting one: “We are thrilled to support Ginkgo in their significant growth and unprecedented success both through our current agreement and their escalating demand through 2017,” Emily M. Leproust, CEO of Twist Bioscience, remarked in the company’s press release about the new deal.
“As we expand our product offering to include longer genes and a diversified product mix, we look forward to serving Ginkgo's future growth beyond 2017, where the rapid scalability of our high throughput silicon platform will enable our customers to work with unparalleled quantities of synthetic DNA, driving new applications and innovative scientific developments.”