Lygos is a Berkeley Lab Technologies startup that engineers microbes to convert sugars into high-value, industrial chemicals, targeting compounds where biological production is cost-advantaged over petrochemical production.

Lygos is providing biotechnology solutions for today’s renewable chemical challenges. Lygos engineers microbes to convert sugars into high-value, industrial chemicals, targeting compounds where biological production is cost-advantaged over petrochemical production.

Lygos’ technology goes beyond engineering microbes and includes fermentation and purification development. Our goal is to manufacture and sell chemicals. This work has been supported, in part, by over $6.5MM in grants from the U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and National Science Foundation.

Products are the specialty chemicals of today that can grow into the commodity chemicals of tomorrow. The primary hurdles restricting market growth of these chemicals is their current high production cost or environmentally hazardous production process. We address both these problems using a low-cost microbial fermentation technology, enabling over $25B in downstream value to be unlocked using our technology.

Lygos address both these problems using a low-cost microbial fermentation technology, enabling over $25B in downstream value to be unlocked using our technology.

Lygos makes products using commercially proven, acid-tolerant yeast. They have developed a suite of high-throughput engineering technologies that enable us to rapidly prototype and optimize our microbes, enabling low-cost, rapid technology scaleup.

Many of target products are organic acids, compounds that are expensive to synthesize using petrochemistry but can be produced at high theoretical yield microbially. A high yielding process means less sugar is required to produce each kilogram of product, decreasing operating costs and lowering exposure to changing raw material (e.g., corn) prices. For some compounds, a theoretical yield greater than 100% can be achieved by sinking carbon dioxide. Low operating costs is a fundamental reason why microbial production of organic acids (

For some compounds, a theoretical yield greater than 100% can be achieved by sinking carbon dioxide. Low operating costs is a fundamental reason why microbial production of organic acids (e.g., itaconic, lactic, citric, and succinic acids) has been more successful than biofuels (e.g., farnesane, bio-diesel, butanol, and ethanol).

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In 2011, Lygos was founded on a $150,000 Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Energy; shortly thereafter, the Lygos team invented the first engineered microbe producing malonic acid. In 2017, Lygos is planning to ship metric ton quantities of product.

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