Viridos (formerly Synthetic Genomics, Inc.) is a California-based biotechnology company
harnessing the power of photosynthesis to create transformative solutions to mitigate climate change.
Founded in 2005 by leading figures in synthetic biology, including J Craig Venter and Hamilton Smith, Synthetic Genomics now Viridos 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 the past 16 years, we’ve created a legacy of genomic innovations, building the tools, scientific data, and applied knowledge to address unsolved challenges in pharmaceuticals, energy, and life sciences.
At Viridos, our purpose is to design revolutionary technologies, products, and deployment systems that enable businesses and governments to implement sustainable solutions to mitigate climate change.
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, precision algal crop management tools, and scalable deployment platforms.
With these capabilities, we’re replacing today’s unsustainable systems with products and processes that reduce greenhouse gas emissions and ultimately help create a future where we all can thrive.
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.
Viridos developed a cloning module – a new capability that automates and expedites DNA cloning – a procedure used in nearly every academic and commercial molecular biology laboratory worldwide. Based on this innovation, we developed an automated manufacturing process that significantly reduced the time it takes to create DNA constructs for therapeutic research and development programs, clearing the path for a wide range of research applications.
At the core of this process is the BioXp, the world's first benchtop DNA printer, an automated instrument that enables biotechnology, pharmaceutical, academic, or government laboratories to create DNA from electronically transmitted sequence data. We successfully spun off this technology into a new company in 2019, now called Codex DNA.
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. Armata Pharmaceuticals is now deploying the Viridos IP to generate clinical candidates and bacteriophage therapies.
Together with ExxonMobil, we 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.
Published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), we successfully “stacked” seven different genes 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.
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, a recently launched company, developed food proteins and oils from non‐engineered algal strains developed by Viridos.
Viridos obtained additional EPA approvals to conduct outdoor cultivation of our lead algal biofuels strains. By granting the ability to perform extensive environmental monitoring, we can transfer our most productive strains from the lab to a real-world setting. This real-world performance accelerates a virtuous “Design-Build-Test” cycle of continuous improvement in strain productivity and robustness and provides evidence that our strains are not harmful to the surrounding environment.
With our joint 2018 announcement of achieving previously unattained productivity, we confirmed our commitment to commercialization by 2025. Benefitting from ExxonMobil’s proven track record of breakthrough engineering products and large-scale deployment, we are building a platform to produce scalable, sustainable low-carbon biofuels. The initial part of this program was the establishment of our pilot production site – California Advanced Algal Facility (CAAF) – in the southern California desert.
By building desert-based production sites with Viridos-engineered microalgae that thrive 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. More importantly, Viridos’ algal biofuel delivers almost a 70% reduction in GHG emissions over the fossil fuels it displaces. And sourcing renewable energy for the operations lowers the carbon footprint of algal biofuels even further.
At CAAF, we continue to convert achievements in the lab to new levels of outdoor algal oil productivity in a real-world production setting. These steps are essential for shaping a viable algal biofuel platform. As we move toward commercialization, we are also designing the AI-based agronomic system to scale our technology to meet the global needs of our partners and customers.