USA – Ginkgo Bioworks, a leading biotechnology company, has teamed up with US-based plant biotech firm GreenLab to upscale the production of brazzein, a sweet-tasting protein derived from the fruit of the native West African Oubli plant.  

With a sweetness factor up to 2,000 times greater than sucrose, brazzein holds promise as a sought-after sugar substitute across various food and beverage (F&B) products. 

This collaboration comes amid increasing consumer demand for healthier food options with reduced sugar content, driving innovation in the sugar substitutes market.  

By leveraging Ginkgo’s cell programming capabilities, GreenLab aims to optimize its proprietary technology for growing proteins inside corn kernels, revolutionizing the sweetener industry with brazzein. 

Karen Wilson, CEO of GreenLab, emphasized the significance of the partnership with Ginkgo, stating: “By using Ginkgo Plant Trait Services, Protein Services, and Deployment Capabilities, we will be able to satisfy the market demand for brazzein with less risk using Ginkgo’s success-based pricing model.” 

GreenLab plans to harness Ginkgo’s expertise in protein expression and optimization in three key areas.  

Firstly, by enhancing brazzein formation in corn kernels using Ginkgo Plant Trait Services to achieve economically competitive levels.  

Secondly, by utilizing Ginkgo Protein Services to express brazzein in a microbial chassis through precision fermentation. Lastly, by purifying formulated brazzein from corn kernels and fermentation broth using Ginkgo’s deployment capabilities. 

GreenLab’s ultimate goal is to become the leading supplier of brazzein to F&B companies by leveraging Ginkgo’s brazzein production pathways and thereby reducing the market and technical risks associated with production. 

The collaboration comes at a time when companies like Ingredion’s PureCircle and industry giants such as DSM-Firmenich and Cargill are exploring fermentation-derived plant-based sweeteners to meet sugar reduction and clean label demands without compromising taste. 

Moreover, sweetener formulator Sweegen is utilizing taste modulation technology to develop new-generation stevia, including high-purity non-GMO Reb M and brazzein. 

Sweegen’s Ultratia brazzein technology received Generally Recognized As Safe (GRAS) status from the Flavor and Extract Manufacturers Association (FEMA) last year. 

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