Australian Centre for Water
and Environmental Biotechnology

AWMC Seminar Program: Dr Josh Silverman - Calysta

Methane Conversion into Biological Products and Chemical Precursors - presented by the founder of Calysta Dr. Josh Silverman

Important progress has recently been made toward engineering a number of phototrophic, heterotrophic, and fermentative microorganisms for production of bio-based products, including protein for animal feeds. While phototrophic algae systems appear to have some advantages, scale-up to commercial production is currently challenging. Fermentation approaches are better characterized, but several limitations, most notably the increasing cost of sugar feedstocks, currently prevent the economical production of products from such systems. Exploiting alternative carbon feedstocks which are relatively inexpensive and domestically abundant represents an attractive alternative to more traditional systems.

One of the most abundant domestic carbon feedstocks is methane, sourced primarily from natural gas. Methane is the second most abundant carbon gas in the atmosphere and contributes >30x higher greenhouse gas effect per ton relative to CO2. This implies that capturing methane sources will have a significant environmental benefit. Longer term, biomass-to-methane strategies may eventually enable a fully renewable carbon cycle if ‘green’ methane-based technologies as described in this proposal are developed. In this presentation I will discuss current ongoing projects for methanotrophs that include production of single cell protein, lactic acid, and omega-3 fatty acids from methane.

About Calysta: Calysta (, a US biotech company, are focused on converting methane into biological products and chemical precursors. They have a strong portfolio regarding single cell protein production from methanotrophs – which serves as a supplement to aqua/mariculture feed as well as animal feed.  They have developed genetic tools that have enabled modification of methanotrophs to overproduce chemical precursors such as lactic acid.

About Josh: Josh is an experienced biotechnology entrepreneur with a history of successful development of novel technology platforms. He has been involved in the founding and financing of five startup biotechnology companies (Avidia, Versartis, Diartis, Siluria, and Calysta) and his efforts contributed to raising over $150 million in equity financing across these companies. Josh received his B.Sc. in Molecular Biology from UC San Diego and Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Stanford University. He is interested in tools and applications of biological engineering as a robust and predictable engineering discipline. He serves as an advisor for a number of biotechnology companies, is a frequent speaker at scientific meetings, and is an author on more than 10 scientific publications and over 30 patents and pending patent applications.

Event Details
Date & Time: 
Friday, 08 July 2016
9am - 10am
Venue: AIBN Building 75, Level 1 Seminar Room

Event Contact: