(399c) Microdroplet-Enabled Metabolic Engineering and Directed Evolution

Alper, H. - Presenter, The University of Texas at Austin
Blending pathway engineering with directed evolution, adaptive strain engineering, and synthetic biology enables a powerful approach for rapid metabolic engineering. In particular, the evolution of small parts, enzymes, pathways, and whole cells is becoming a critical step in strain engineering. However, these library-based approaches are limited by the rate at which improved variants can be identified. Thus, this step serves as a major bottleneck to strain engineering. To address these limitations, microdroplet encapsulation and sorting technologies are rapidly gaining traction as methods for accelerating the overall design-build-test cycle for strain engineering. One key advantage of microdroplets is their capacity to physically link genotype and phenotype, especially for the production of secreted small molecules and proteins. The combination of strain engineering and selection in this unique system can unlock improved phenotypes and productivities. This talk highlights recent advances that leverage this interface of pathway engineering and evolution and discusses new methods to both speed and automate the process of strain engineering.