Nature paper: complete biosynthesis of cannabinoids in yeast.

Did anyone see this today? What do you think the impact of synthetic biology will be on the future of the industry?

I don’t have journal access, but that’s the link to the original paper. Maybe someone with access could share a pdf :nerd_face:

EDIT: here is the pdf.Nature biosyntheis.pdf (7.6 MB)


I’ve been hearing about this for a while! Pretty cool and it will be interesting to see this land as a competitor to the traditional process. Though hemp is so easy to grow and the yields so high i’m unsure whether this would even win on economy of scale.

I think this will be the most economical process by far. Instead of growing a whole plant and then extracting from that material, this process works via fermentation, but instead of alcohol as a byproduct, it literally spits out the target compounds. I shared lab space at the Berkeley lab with a company that used modified yeast to make some super expensive lactone used for anti-aging creams. Their process was scaled to huge fermenters and they were able to produce the compound for ~1000x reduction in price iirc. It took them under two years to get from bench proof of concept to pilot scale.

I think it’ll be a few years until this is commercially viable at scale, but in my opinion this will absolutely be a paradigm shift in the way cannabinoids are produced on the pathway to becoming commodity chemicals.


Maybe not for thc and cbd, but what about some of the rarer compounds and terpenes? Could be cost effective and time effective in those cases, if they can make them work.


This is by far, a terrible idea in my opinion. There’s a reason the plant produces a myriad of other compounds, to regulate, potentiate, and modify the effects of the other constituents in a way that makes it genuine medicine. This is why CBD on its’ own has a bell curve of effectiveness, whereas CBD in conjunction with the other native plant compounds does not.

This will be great for getting through the red tape that modern research has put up though. It’s a step towards realizing that for the same reason one cannot consume a bunch of vitamins and nutrients in pill form and expect to absorb it all, one cannot ingest a bunch of these isolated molecules and expect to reap the same benefits as ingesting the whole plant.

It’s like eating a bunch of oranges versus eating thousands of milligrams of vitamin C, your body doesn’t know what to do with it without all the other stuff.


Yes, taking things apart and trying to put them back together “better” than nature made them usually doesnt end well.


I’ve heard of this process being applied to opioids and then the subject died off once it was successful

This is where pharma is going but do not worry little guys who think extracting from flower is superior, there will always be you hippies and whole foods stay at home moms who do not like GMOs (lol) so have no fear your market will always exist but synthetic biology will completely replace extraction in the pharmaceutical market.


What’s your opinion on the reasoning behind several countries in the EU banning GMOs?

Edit: Also, why is there a known, government ran seed bank that has heirloom seeds of every food plant we’ve done modification to? (By modification I don’t mean selective breeding, I still don’t understand how these two things fit in the same category.)

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Read a news article talkimg about it. It xlearly states its gmo. I kno there was topic on here about gmo in cannabis with most regular users in favor. Which is odd since i have never meet anyone in real life in the industry that supports gmo. Kinda fishy. Seems trolls maybe be trying to influence our opionins which with all the manipulation of people that has came out about favebook tinder other online platforms it would not be far feched.

The banning of gmo crops is pretty dumb, to say that theres nothing of benefit that will come from genetic modification is just plain ignorant. I could see it being beneficial if they banned herbicide resistant strains only.

Selective breeding and genetic modification do fit into the same category if you dont look at genetic modification like its the ugly stepchild of the two.
They both deal with modifying genetics.


To say that no harm can come from GMOs is also ignorant in my opinion.

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Research dr sula benet and her work on the lost history of cannabis. If we truly undersrood this plant we would not support gmo. This plant helps to connect people to a source of information greater than ourselfs. I no this sounds crazy but its well documented. Further its clear to see this in practice. Ask yourself. Doesnt it seem odd that everyone who is “awake” has smoked cannabis at some point in their lifes. It helps you see the unseen. gmo cannabis undoubtly would lack this effect.

What harm comes from gmo other than glyphosate ingestion?

I mean harm to people not harm to environment.

Paul Stamets, the world’s leading mycologist mentioned something along the lines of improper carbohydrate synthesis, which our bodies cannot break down.

Sounds like something along the lines of aspartame and other synthesized sugars that our bodies do NOT handle well.


Wow what a obviosly fkawed argument we so not need ro prove gmos are dangerous. It is on you the supoorted of the new tec to prove its SAFE. With a lack of ANY lomg term feed studies we are literaly the lab rats. An as most gmo is an eztention of big ag. Im ok on all that further harm to the enviorment. And harm to peoole are ine in the same your lack of forsight to understand this scary

Genetic modification is the process of altering the genetic makeup of an organism. This has been done indirectly for thousands of years by controlled, or selective, breeding of plants and animals.

One could argue that selective breeding is not direct genetic modification. The plant’s genes are still subject to the available dominant and recessive genes. Direct genetic modification is doing things like splicing fish genes into tomatoes to make the skin more resistant to being pierced.



@Distillforeal There is actually a lot of research on GMOs. Here is a summary of a decade of EU funded research:
Also, I think this is a different type of GMO than most people worry about. CBD is CBD, just as THC is THC. Doesn’t really matter where it came from as long as it has the same number and arrangement of atoms and is of sufficient purity.

I personally don’t have a problem with GMOs. I think producing cannabinoids destined for medicine (i.e. Epidiolex) can be produced in a more environmentally friendly and safer manner. I mean, look at the way many extracts are produced. People are winterizing in methanol, a variety of hydrocarbons are regularly used, and I’ve seen patents for THCa crystallization that utilize columns with DCM… this is potentially a way to circumvent all of that. There are massive energy inputs that go into producing extracts by current standards too - in CO, like 10% of our energy usage is for cannabis production.

We don’t really know much about the “entourage” effect beyond anecdote (and I personally FEEL a difference, but that doesn’t hold up to the rigor of peer review); however, I think talking about the whole plant vs. isolated compounds (or oranges vs. vitamin c) for this discussion is a bit moot because it isn’t an apples to apples comparison. I think there will always be a place for flower and flower derived products, but we shouldn’t demonize a new process that could make what we do safer and greener until we learn more about it!


@Distillforeal Dont be rude, I havent been.

Genetic modification can be used for more than just increasing or altering sugar production in crops. Do you oppose GMO research on plants that wont be meant for ingestion?

Heres an example. Cannabis is good at pulling heavy metals from soil it lives in, if we could genetically modify the plant to more effectively absorb heavy metals and use this plant to remediate agricultural land would you oppose the use of that plant.

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