What Is Strain Engineering, How Do We Leverage It?

Swati Choudhary, PhD

October 26, 2021

Microbial strain engineering is the modification of microbial cells to produce target products, such as proteins of interest.

Strain engineering is an applied biological science, and at Shiru we use our knowledge of biological systems along with concepts from synthetic biology to create and optimize microbial strains that produce target proteins – starting from proof-of-concept amounts, all the way to commercial scale production.

The strain engineering toolkit encompasses the entire spectrum of molecular biological technologies – from precision genetic engineering technologies such as CRISPR, to directed evolution, classical mutagenesis and adaptive evolution. Shiru’s strain engineers design and engineer DNA parts introducing novel functionalities to various microbes, they optimize the host cell’s metabolism to maximize product formation, and they also train the microbial cells to be robust enough to survive the harsh conditions inside an industrial fermentor.

At Shiru, we express diverse functional food proteins in microbial host strains and evaluate them to identify and create hero food ingredients. Starting with the functional protein targets short-listed by our computational team, we design and create DNA fragments that when expressed in a microbial host, will guide the cell to produce our target proteins. We then introduce these DNA fragments into our host strains, and validate expression of our target proteins from these transformed microbes. In other words, we leverage biotechnology to convert proteins from ideas to functional food ingredients.