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Systems and synthetic biology

SINTEF has been and currently is coordinating and participating in several transdisciplinary national and international projects aiming at systems scale understanding of microbial cells. The aim is to develop them into efficient microbial cell factories by means of metabolic engineering and applying top-down Synthetic Biology and metabolic engineering approaches.

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Model systems we worked extensively with in recent years at systems biology level are the methylotrophic bacterium Bacillus methanolicus, the antibiotic producing actinobacterium Streptomyces coelicolor and the bacterial alginate producer Pseudomonas fluorescence.

Key competences, research areas and products

  • Cultivations in fully controlled fermentors (batch, fed-batch, continuous) for full 'omics high resolution time-scale sampling, including for mycelial bacteria like Streptomyces spp.
  • Genomics and RNAseq-based transcriptomics.
  • Metabolomics (targeted, non-targeted) using SINTEF's comprehensive MS analytics facilities.
  • Targeted proteomics using MS analytics.
  • Strain development using top-down Synthetic Biology approaches and metabolic engineering, guided by systems scale understanding of microbial chassis organisms.
  • SINTEF has previously participated in two ERA-net SysMO projects and is currently leading two large-scale projects aimed at developing strains of Streptomyces coelicolor into optimized 'Super-hosts' for accelerated bioactive compound discovery by means of Functional Metagenomics and for improved production of antibiotic and anti-cancer compounds, including from Bioprospecting activities.
  • Methylotrophy. SINTEF has since 2002 had ongoing activities on metabolic engineering and Systems Biology studies of Bacillus methanolicus, a thermophilic bacterium able to convert the non-food material methanol into industrially relevant compounds including amino acids (L-glutamate, L-lysine, L-alanine), amino acids derivates (e.g. cadaverine) and terpenoids.


  • ERASysAPP SYSTERACT (2015-2018)
  • ERASysAPP MetApp (2015-2018)
  • ERA-MBT Thermofactories (2016-2019)
  • Biotek2021 Digitalt Liv INBioPharm (2016-2020)
  • Gassmaks BioMet (2013-2015)
  • FP7 PROMYSE (2012-2014)
  • FP6 SynMet (2010-2013)
  • ERA-net SysMO STREAM (2008-2011)
  • ERA-net SysMO SCaRAB (2008-2011)
  • ERA-CoBioTech BESTER (2018-2021)

Infrastructure platforms of relevance for Systems Biology and Synthetic Biology
Molecular Biology, Advanced Analytics, HTS, Bioprocess Technology