“In biology, we still have so much to learn from experiments. Predictions need to be verified from experiments and then constantly modified, which requires a lot of trial and error,” says Professor Johannes Kabisch from Technische Universität Darmstadt.
Kabisch’s group, which focuses on metabolic engineering of Bacillus subtilis and Yarrowia lipolytica, has fully embraced robotic platforms for their metabolic engineering projects.
“The goal of my group is really to develop microbial cell factories for a renewable, hydrocarbon-based bioeconomy. We are trying to find biological substitutes for things we currently derive from fossil fuel,” explains Kabisch. Already, his group has developed new tools to regulate gene copy numbers in B. subtilis and has produced hydrocarbons from glycerol in Y. lipolytica.
“We also have a nanoliter dispenser, called Dispendix I-DOT, which does nanoliter dispensing. This is especially useful for DNA work because we want to use as little DNA as possible. Creating DNA with a specific sequence requires a lot of work. You need to grow cells, isolate DNA, and so forth. At a large scale, this is a lot of effort and a source of errors.”