Danish scientists achieve serine production breakthrough.

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In Denmark, researchers at The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability have engineered Escherichia coli to produce commercially meaningful amounts of the amino acid serine.

Serine is used in a number of products, including insecticides, cosmetics, and cleaning products. It can be used as a building block to manufacture many chemicals currently produced from petroleum.

The researchers used adaptive laboratory evolution to engineer E. coli capable of surviving high concentrations of serine. They were eventually able to reach a yield of 250-300 grams of serine for each kilogram of sugar. “This discovery is quite unique and proves that we can actually adapt cells to tolerate large amounts of serine–something many people thought wasn’t possible,” says lead scientist Alex Toftgaard.

The findings were published in Metabolic Engineering.