Olfactory receptor-based sensors to accelerate the engineering of chemical-producing microbes
One of the major challenges in the engineering of microbes for the production of chemicals is the rapid identification of the highest chemical-producing microbe from a pool, akin to finding a needle in a haystack. Chromatography-based methods for the strain-screening step limit the screening throughput to ∼100 chemical-producing microbes per day. Biosensors that link chemical detection to fluorescence have the potential to enable the screening of more than a million chemical-producing microbes per day. Here, I will present work on the rapid engineering of olfactory receptor-based sensors to detect different chemicals from advanced biofuels and pharmaceutical-like compounds. We are using these sensors for the high-throughput screening of chemical producing microbes, and considering how this throughput now allow us to apply evolutionary approaches to the bioproduction of non-colorimetric chemicals.