Our Mission is to mitigate climate change through low-carbon algal biofuels

Viridos is working with microalgae, building a scalable platform for low-carbon intensity biofuels, which can decarbonize entire industries from aviation, commercial trucking, and maritime shipping. Through this process, Viridos is creating products that are in harmony with nature and providing solutions needed for a greener, more prosperous future.

By establishing production sites to grow Viridos-engineered microalgae in saltwater, we are creating the foundation for a biofuel future that moves away from fossil fuels without competing for precious resources such as fresh water and arable land.

As we move closer to commercialization, our team of scientists are developing more advanced bioengineering tools and knowledge to create new products and processes that will support a sustainable bioeconomy.


Multiple benefits of the Viridos technology

  • Decarbonizes two difficult to abate industries: Aviation and Heavy Transport
  • Creates new agronomic opportunities that don’t compete with traditional farming
  • Puts otherwise unproductive land into sustainable production
  • Provides jobs and careers across the entire education spectrum from farm workers to Ph.D. scientists
  • Direct and indirect economic impact
  • Provides a strategic fuel alternative for the United States and our allies, for example, Australia, to supply fuel to the Pacific Rim region.

Our mission is nothing less than helping
to save the planet.

We are creating solutions for sustainability that don’t yet exist.

At Viridos, our purpose is to design, bio engineer, and deploy microalgae to produce algae oil at scale as the preferred feedstock for renewable fuels. Particularly for airplanes, trucks, ships, and trains, where payload and range are essential, the need for an energy-dense liquid fuel will only grow. The challenge is therefore, how to replace existing fossil jet fuel and diesel with sustainable and scalable alternatives?

Sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) and renewable diesel (RD) already exist but the bio-feedstocks from which they are refined are of limited quantity and they are often produced from plant oils. As demand for SAFand RD continues to grow rapidly to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, we are running out of options. Producing plant oil at the quantities needed is severely limited by the amount of arable land and freshwater resources available. This creates an unacceptable compromise: grow crops for food and feed, or divert them to produce biofuels?

We have a bold mission: break that compromise through our proprietary and sustainable high oil-producing microalgae that grow in saltwater in sunny and warm climates in algae farms built on marginal land. These algae farms can scale as they can be built on unused arid land and rely on ocean water, not freshwater. By achieving areal oil productivities that far surpass any crop plant, large quantities of algae oil can be sustainably grown on much less land.

While this is a bold mission, at Viridos, we have some unique capabilities that enable us to achieve it. These include continuous genomic innovation, systems to maximize biological productivity, a sensor network platform to enable precision agriculture for algal cultivation, and scalable deployment platforms.

We are replacing today’s unsustainable approaches with products and processes that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately help create a future where we all can thrive. 

We are excited to welcome new partners and investors as we move closer to commercialization.

They are joining us for five simple reasons:
Urgency of our mission – We are tackling one of the most vital, but hardest to decarbonize, segments of our economy – heavy-duty transportation. It’s an urgency that’s hard to ignore.
Genomic expertise – Our unparalleled scientific achievements are evidence of an IP toolkit and skilled team capable of tackling even greater challenges.
Translating from lab to the real world – Converting lab-based innovations into real-world applicability is fundamental to achieving our Purpose.
Sustainability of our solution – Minimizing land and freshwater use and maintaining ecosystem compatibility are only a few examples of meeting our goal to provide future generations with solutions, not more problems.
Scale of our vision – Our commitment to working with world-class partners is at the heart of our vision and defines the global scale of our solutions.

We've been innovating on behalf of the planet and its residents since 2005.

Since our founding, we’ve pioneered genomic innovations that have been incorporated into new technologies, spun off into companies across multiple industries, and codified in more than 100 patents.
Groundbreaking oil productivity achieved, again
Viridos achieves algal bio-oil productivity of 11.1 grams/m2/day, demonstrating continuous progress on its path towards commercialization.
Viridos secures grant from DOE to optimize large scale algal-oil extraction
High extraction of algae oil achieved

Viridos extracted oil, both with dry and wet processes. The extraction efficiency exceeded 90%. This milestone is important to advance and get closer from algae oil to renewable diesel or Sustainable Aviation Fuel.

High consistency growing proprietary high-producing algae outdoors confirmed

Viridos accomplishes a 95% crop success rate in 2022, built on years of experience growing algae outdoors and combined with a robust production host. 

This accomplishment relied on a multi-disciplinary approach including thoroughly characterizing strains prior to deployment, a well-developed scale-up and production process, and integrated pest management .

Groundbreaking oil productivity achieved

Viridos achieves outdoor algal bio-oil productivity of 9.1 grams/m2/day in open ponds system at the California Advanced Algal Facility.  This demonstrates the translatability of algal productivities from the lab to the field.  

This is substantially higher than what has been reported in the field and a key milestone towards our goal of deploying microalgae to produce low carbon intensity fuels at scale.

Viridos secures additional EPA approval for outdoor cultivation

Viridos obtains additional EPA approval to conduct outdoor cultivation of our lead engineered algal biofuels strains. This is our third consecutively approved TERA application.

Outdoor algal bio-oil performance reaches new high
Viridos achieved outdoor algal bio-oil productivity of 5 grams/m2/day – at an industrially relevant scale – at the California Advanced Algal Facility using our best-performing proprietary microalgal strains. 
Viridos develops open-pond simulators

Downscaling large open race-ways, Viridos has developed and deployed mini-ponds with the capability to simulate the light, temperature, and other environmental conditions algae experience in a production system. This allows us to test strains 365 days a year in conditions mimicking our outdoor production facility, or anywhere in the world our strains may be deployed. 

Self-replicating RNA medicines: Innovative vaccines and therapeutics partnered

We developed a proprietary RNA replicon platform to selectively stimulate the immune system and deliver targeted therapies produced within a person’s own body. This technology enables a new class of vaccines and combination therapies to combat cancer and infectious diseases. 

The platform has been successfully partnered with leading human and animal health companies. 

Nutritional proteins and oils spun off

Acknowledging the global need for more sustainable vegetarian food protein sources, our discovery and improvement of algae strains that ferment sugars into high-quality nutritional proteins and oils provided a solution. 

Based on this work, Smallfoods developed food proteins and oils from nonengineered algal strains developed by Viridos.

Successful trait stacking and gene knockout established in algae
Viridos successfully “stacked” seven different traits in a microalgae’s genome, as well as knocked out redundant genes. Ultimately, this allows for a single strain to express multiple desirable traits simultaneously. This accomplishment was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
Algae biofuels collaboration goes outdoors

Implementation of the California Advanced Algae Facility (CAAF), where we are piloting the next generation of our algae biofuels program.  It begins the journey of taking the lead algae strain from the lab to open ponds.

Growing organs for transplantation

Viridos developed, in partnership with United Therapeutics, the capabilities to engineer pig cells with the goal of generating humanized pig organs for transplantation and partners the program.

Algae biofuel breakthrough announced

Viridos modified an algae strain that more than doubled its oil content without inhibiting the strain’s growth. The results were published in the peer-reviewed journal Nature Biotechnology.

Best natural occurring algae for biofuels selected

Proprietary algae “strain 15” becomes our lead developmental algal chassis.  Combining exceptional biomass and lipid productivities with robustness in the face of harsh production conditions this strain has what it takes to make it a deployable production strain.  

Initial steps towards domestication and development of strain engineering tools lay the foundation for further improvements. 

First minimal cell built

We built the first minimal synthetic bacterial cell. This is the smallest genome of any organism that can be grown in laboratory media. This feat led to new tools and semi-automated processes for whole-genome synthesis, aiding in more efficient development of biologic drugs. 

Lipid switch genetic discovered

Viridos discovered the genetic switch that enables the concurrent growth and increased production of lipids. This discovery is key to enable the production of bio-oil from algae. 

Engineered phage against pathogenic bacteria

We developed “supercharged” phages, a type of virus, to combat antibiotic-resistant strains of Pseudomonas, a bug that causes skin infections, sepsis, and potentially fatal pneumonia. Phage therapy has the potential to treat multidrug-resistant bacterial infections. 

Based on our engineered phage, we developed a proprietary bacteriophage engineering platform to address the inherent limitations of natural phage as a therapeutic and aprtnered with Armata Pharmaceuticals.

Automated DNA, RNA, and protein production established

Viridos developed a cloning module – a new capability that automates and expedites DNA cloning, currently used worldwide. Based on this innovation, we developed an automated manufacturing process that significantly reduced the time it takes to create DNA constructs. 

At the core of this process is the BioXp, the world's first benchtop DNA printer, enabling biotechnology, pharmaceutical, academic, or government laboratories to create DNA from electronically transmitted sequence data. 

We spun off this technology into a new company in 2019, now Codex DNA.

Synthetic flu vaccine made

Viridos developed a synthetic approach that rapidly generated a vaccine seed from downloadable sequence data, due to the threat posed by the H7N9 bird flu.

Global search for the best algae species for biofuels completed

0ver 2000 eukaryotic algae species were isolated after a 2-year global expedition to find the best naturally occurring salt and temperature tolerant strains.  This has generated a one-of-a-kind proprietary algal library collection.  

First synthetic cell created

Viridos developed the first self-replicating synthetic cell, a bacterial cell that was digitally designed and brought to life through chemical synthesis. This enables the development of many important cell-based applications, including vaccines, pharmaceuticals, biofuels, and food products. 

Collaboration with ExxonMobil for next-generation biofuels from algae initiated

Beginning of algal research and development partnership with ExxonMobil as alternative solution to decarbonizing transportation. 

New DNA assembly method discovered

This assembly method, first published in Nature Methods, can be used to seamlessly construct synthetic and natural genes, genetic pathways, and entire genomes and functions as a useful molecular engineering tool.

First bacterial genome synthesized
This synthetic genome – the largest man-made DNA structure created – was regarded as a striking technical accomplishment and formed the groundwork of our platform.
First genome transplanted
Viridos transplanted the first genome, which was an important step towards creating a synthetic organism that can help solve global health and sustainability challenges.
Viridos is a California-based biotechnology company
harnessing the power of photosynthesis in microalgae to mitigate climate change.

Founded as Synthetic Genomics (SGI) in 2005 by leading figures in synthetic biology, including J Craig Venter and Nobel Laureate Hamilton Smith, SGI quickly established itself as a powerhouse for innovative research, transplanting the first genome, synthesizing the first bacterial genome, and creating the first synthetic cell. Over more than a decade, we’ve created a legacy of genomic innovations, building the tools, scientific data, and applied knowledge to address unsolved sustainability challenges. We are now applying our synthetic biology expertise with a complete focus on humanity’s greatest challenge: climate change.

To reflect our complete focus on microalgae for a greener future, we renamed the company in 2021 to Viridos, from viridis = green, fresh in latin, os = operating system that powers a cell.


We’re a team committed to building transformative solutions to address climate change.

Leadership Team
Oliver Fetzer, Ph.D., MBA
President and Chief Executive Officer
Doug Miller
Chief Financial Officer
Brittney Maxey, PHR
Human Resources
Eric Moellering, Ph.D.
Chief Scientific Officer
Jay McCarren, Ph.D.
Vice President, Development and Deployment
Kelly T. Clark, CISSP
Information Technology and Security
Jennifer Nominati, PMP
Program Management
Kristi O'Grady
Vice President, of Systems Innovation and Analytics
Tom Griffin, PhD
Chief Engineering Officer
Michele Rubino, M.S., MBA
Business Development advisor
Margaret Dunbar, M.S., J.D.
Viridos Attorney and Acting Head of Intellectual Property
Rob Brown, Ph,D.
Scientific advisor
Board of Directors
Oliver Fetzer, Ph.D., MBA
President and Chief Executive Officer