Significant barriers stand in the way of more effectively harnessing biological systems to produce fuels, chemicals, therapeutics, food, and feed. To overcome these challenges, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab) has developed a set of comprehensive capabilities to accelerate the discovery and development of bio-based products while diminishing risk for industry. This Integrative Bioengineering platform combines multiple omics technologies, automated workflows, predictive scale-up, and large-scale fermentation capabilities to rapidly transition from biological hypotheses to pre-commercial applications.
With its high-performance computing, bioinformatics, and modeling infrastructure, Berkeley Lab, along with its partners from universities, other U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories, other federal agencies, and industry, is uniquely positioned to take bioengineering from discovery to optimization, and partner with industry to enable successful scale-up. With its industry partners, Berkeley Lab has served as an incubator for the discovery and scale-up of bio-malonic acid, a high value specialty chemical currently being commercialized for the production of pharmaceuticals, flavors, fragrances, and specialty materials.
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Integrative Bioengineering at Berkeley Lab focuses on processes for renewable energy generation, biomanufacturing of molecules that do not depend on fossil-fuel inputs, engineered microbiomes that promote plant growth and reduce dependence on chemical inputs, and applications that protect the environment for future generations. Additional applications include new antibiotic discovery, and development of new food and feed technologies. Industry partner project requirements — from early-stage discovery to commercialization — can be accomplished through the Integrative Bioengineering at Berkeley Lab platform. Support for these projects comes either directly from the partners or through government-sponsored programs.
The Integrative Bioengineering at Berkeley Lab Capabilities:
The DOE Joint Genome Institute (JGI), a DOE Office of Science National User Facility, is the leading contributor of environmental- and energy-relevant genomes (plants, fungi, microbes, metagenomes) to public databases. Capabilities include:
- High-throughput sequencing, functional annotation, and metabolomics platforms
- Data science and informatics — databases, custom computational tools, and portals
- DNA synthesis for gene function and biosynthetic pathway discovery
The Agile BioFoundry (ABF), a collaborative platform spanning eight DOE National Laboratories. Capabilities include:
- Establish robust predictive biology toolbox for multiple hosts and pathways
- Significantly reduced cycle times for iterative improvements in titer, rate and yield
- Predictive scale-up and scale-down of industrial biotechnology
The Advanced Biofuels and Bioproducts Process Development Unit (ABPDU) has enabled >50 companies — including leading innovators in the synbio, food, and industrial biotech sectors — through a biorefinery approach that optimizes technologies for:
- Feedstock pre-treatment and deconstruction
- Fermentation and chemical process scale-up
- Product recovery and purification
- Techno-economic modeling and analytical chemistry
The Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI), a DOE Bioenergy Research Center. Capabilities include:
- Engineering microbes to transform sugars into energy-rich fuels
- Using the latest techniques in molecular biology, chemical and genetic engineering to develop new biological systems
- Life cycle and technoeconomic analysis of new technologies