Industrial Biotechnology: Screening for Enzymatic Activities in Microorganisms

We aim to develop droplet-based microfluidic systems that allow the high-throughput screening of bacteria for several enzymatic activities of industrial interest. Such tools would be of great interest in the expanding field of industrial biotechnology (also known as white biotechnology in Europe).

We are running several projects which involve compartmentalising individual bacteria in droplets, together with a fluorogenic assay system. Droplets are sorted triggered on fluorescence, using dielectrophoresis at rates of up to a thousand of droplets per second, enabling the screening of libraries of >10 million clones per day.

Relevant fluorogenic assays (especially chemically modified substrates) are designed and optimized for the desired activities.

With this approach, we can screen either:

  • libraries containing random mutations of a wild-type sequence, to look for variants with higher activities or slightly different proprerties (e.g. pH profile)
  • metagenomic libraries cloned in E. coli to discover new genes encoding the activity.

One of these projects called OSIRIS is a collaboration with the company Soufflet