High-throughput optofluidic screening for improved microbial cell factories via real-time micron-scale productivity monitoring†
The industrial synthetic biology sector has made huge investments to achieve relevant miniaturized screening systems for scalable fermentation. Here we present the first example of a high-throughput (>103 genotypes per week) perfusion-based screening system to improve small-molecule secretion from microbial strains. Using the Berkeley Lights Beacon® system, the productivity of each strain could be directly monitored in real time during continuous culture, yielding phenotypes that correlated strongly (r2 > 0.8, p < 0.0005) with behavior in industrially relevant bioreactor processes. This method allows a much closer approximation of a typical fed-batch fermentation than conventional batch-like droplet or microplate culture models, in addition to rich time-dependent data on growth and productivity. We demonstrate these advantages by application to the improvement of high-productivity strains using whole-genome random mutagenesis, yielding mutants with substantially improved (by up to 85%) peak specific productivities in bioreactors. Each screen of ∼5 × 103 mutants could be completed in under 8 days (including 5 days involving user intervention), saving ∼50–75% of the time required for conventional microplate-based screening methods.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Lab on a Chip HOT Articles 2021