Skip to main content

In Other Words: New York Times Article - Andrew Pollack:"What's that smell. Exotic Scents Made From Re-engineered Yeast"

It's not often that I get to talk about what is actually happening at my own company which in many ways makes posting about what I really care about even harder. But as it turns out, today, I don't actually need to say much about all the exciting science, and development going on at Amyris. I don't have to because a New York Times article recently talking about all the great things happening at Amyris - with some things being more speculative than others. The article did such a good job explaining in layman's terms what it is that Amyris is doing, that I am just going to link the article to this blog article and call it "In Other Words". I recommend everyone reading this: What's that smell. Exotic Scents Made From Re-engineered Yeast


For those too lazy to read the entire article, here is a brief summary that doesn't do the article the right service:
  • The concept is not new. Yeast and sugar have been used for a long time now to make alcohol. The tricky part is trying to teach yeast cells  not to make alcohol but other useful products.
  • This is where genetic engineering and synthetic biology come in: Applying these tools it is possible to add instructions to the yeast library so that they know how to make other products.
  •  Positive impacts: reduce price volatility of raw materials, relieve pressure on some overharvested wild plants, or animals (like sharks).
  • Other companies are making yeast-made vanillin (Evolva), valencene and nootkatone (Isobionics and Allyix).
  • Negative impacts: potential negative impacts to the few export products of developing nations.
  • Discussion of GMO and made from genetically modified organisms vs how natural a product is ensues.
  • Big companies are investing in small start-ups. E.g.: BASF started a partnership with Allylix (interesting!).
  • Speculative: Amyris is working with Michelin. Amyris is working on patchouli with Firmenich.
  • Discussion on the impact of synthetically derived products on lowering costs vs the scare for farmers and the effect on planting behavior using Dr. Keaslings remarks as a launch point.
  • The article ends with Professor Keasling saying that all these efforts are about saving lives of children.
Anyways, do you have any thoughts after reading this article?

Popular posts from this blog

Focus on Algae - Part I: Bioremediation

After spending the last few blog posts on different aspects of dissimilatory bacteria, I want to switch the focus to a different class of organisms I have been interested in for a long time now. These are the algae. Algae comprise a large diversity of "sea weeds" and an even larger variety of single-celled organisms that mostly are capable of doing photosynthesis. They include the ordinary sea-weed, and make up a portion of the green slime found around the edges and the bottom of a pond. More exotic types of algae can live symbiotically - that is together with another organism in a mutually beneficial way. Lichens are an example of symbiotic relationship between algae and fungi. More information about the evolution and lineage of algae can be found in this wiki article.
Image via Wikipedia
Typically, these organisms are either not mentioned at all or only in conjunction with toxic algal blooms. But lately, algae, of course, have been in the news recently because of the promi…

Sustainable Living: One man's trash...

Since Earth Week is starting tomorrow, I wanted share with you some concrete ways of how individuals like you and me can make an impact on a wider scale. I then also wanted to use this example to challenge everyone to think creatively about the larger context.

So you know how the saying goes: "One man's trash is another one's treasure." Today, I want to talk to you about garbage. Plastic garbage specifically. Plastic is quite a wondrous material. Made from oil by man with just a few additives can turn this polymer into so many different sorts of plastics with so many different properties from thin and flimsy plastic bags, to the carpet on which I am standing, to this plastic bottle from which I am drinking.