BioTork Collaborates with BASF for Industrial Production of Green Chemicals
- Jun 20, 2012
GAINESVILLE, Florida -- BioTork announces collaboration with BASF to optimize certain
microbial strains for the industrial production of bio-based polymers and green chemicals. After six
months of collaboration, BASF and BioTork came to the conclusion that a combination of their
complementary approaches to strain development can improve the efficiency and resulting economics
of biochemical production processes. The financial terms of the partnership have not been disclosed.
BASF has been conducting intensive research on the use of microorganisms for the production of
proteins, enzymes, vitamins and other high value and low cost chemicals. In their natural environment,
microorganisms generally synthesize these chemicals only to meet their own requirements for survival.
The challenge faced by chemical companies is to push these microorganisms to produce these chemicals
faster, in much larger quantities, and under industrial conditions that are different from the
microorganisms' natural environment. This is the only way to use microorganisms for commercially
viable production of chemical products. To achieve this goal, BASF is successfully using metabolic
engineering techniques to make targeted modifications to certain microorganisms in order to optimize
bioconversion capability, increase yield and eliminate bottlenecks.
"A recently completed pilot study between BioTork and BASF demonstrated that these engineered
microorganisms could be further optimized for maximal industrial performance using adaptive
evolution," says Tom Lyons, Chief Scientific Officer of BioTork. Dr. Lyons adds: "Laboratory results
confirm a synergy effect between the metabolic modifications engineered by BASF and the proprietary
adaptive evolution technology used by BioTork." BioTork is the holder of an exclusive, worldwide license
to use the adaptive evolution technology of Evolugate, LLC in the fields of bio-based chemical and
The Evolugate adaptive evolution technology is a continuous culture apparatus that selects the fittest
genetic variants from among a population under controlled environmental conditions that mimic those
needed for the most economical industrial process. After rounds of selection - which can achieve
success in a matter of weeks or months - the microorganisms acquire capabilities that were absent from
the original strain. These new capabilities provide the microbe with the potential to enhance industrial
performance and thereby improve the economics of the process. Examples of these newly acquired
properties could be a faster growth rate, the ability to grow at non-optimal temperatures, resistance to
inhibitors or growth under nutrient limiting conditions.
"We are extremely pleased with the capacity of our technology to complement the metabolic
modifications that are engineered by BASF," says Marc Penicaud, BioTork Vice President for Business
Development in Europe. He adds: "We will dedicate all the necessary resources to ensure BASF achieves
major advancements in the production of high value bio-based chemicals."
Created in 2008, BioTork LLC is a biotechnology company developing microbial strains to be used to
produce biofuels and bio-renewable chemicals. The mission of BioTork is to achieve complete
replacement of crude petroleum oil with biomass derived equivalents. BioTork is based in Gainesville,
BASF is the world's leading chemical company: The Chemical Company. Its portfolio ranges from
chemicals, plastics, performance products and crop protection products to oil and gas. BASF combines
economic success, social responsibility and environmental protection. Through science and innovation
BASF enables its customers in almost all industries to meet the current and future needs of society. BASF
products and system solutions contribute to conserving resources, ensuring healthy food and nutrition
and helping to improve the quality of life. BASF has summed up this contribution in its corporate
purpose: "We create chemistry for a sustainable future." BASF reported sales of approximately €73.5
billion in 2011 and had more than 111,000 employees as of the end of the year. BASF shares are traded
on the stock exchanges in Frankfurt (BAS), London (BFA) and Zurich (AN).
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