About deCYPher

The deCYPher project brings together artificial intelligence, machine learning techniques and synthetic biology to go beyond traditional extraction methods of flavonoids and terpenoids. These plant compounds are used for important products, such as pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals. As the current extraction is expensive and limited to just a few compounds, deCYPher’s objective is to develop a bio-based production alternative of plant secondary metabolites, which aims to ensure a regular supply in a more sustainable, economical, and efficient way.

Microbial production of plant metabolites has economic & environmental benefits over traditional extraction and chemical methods. Despite initial progress & the successful market introduction of some molecules, the microbial production of oxygenated plant metabolites (OPMs) mediated by cytochrome P450 enzymes (CYPs) is still lagging, making them almost inaccessible to society. In contrast, artificial intelligence (AI) & machine learning (ML) tools are evolving rapidly, but their use for engineering biology is still underexplored. deCYPher applies these groundbreaking AI/ML techniques to unlock the OPM molecules to society. deCYPher develops a standardised AI/ML pipeline to implement AI/ML in each step of the Design-Build-Test-Learn cycle, and across all steps in the biotech value chain. Combined with smart databases & synthetic biology (SynBio) tools, this AI/ML pipeline will generate opportunities for the whole biotech sector. Specifically, applied to OPMs, we (1) bioprospect & select specific CYPs, (2) correctly localise & express CYPs and (3) optimise the microbial cells & bioprocess. deCYPher involves stakeholders (industry, regulators, NGOs) and engages European citizens across several countries. This allows to reflect on the societal ramifications of the convergence of AI & SynBio. In parallel, deCYPher will enable the AI/ML sector to apply their tools in the biotech sector, by creating new production tools for industrial biotech and specifically impact industry (flavours & fragrances, phytonutrient) and society with novel products. deCYPher contributes to the EU green deal, supports the transition to a circular bioeconomy, increases resource efficiency, strengthens European competitiveness, innovates in a responsible and reflective manner & boosts sustainability of biobased value chains.
Bringing together 10 international partners from 6 countries, deCYPher takes an interdisciplinary approach by uniting academia, industry, citizens, and non-profit organisations. The project aims to impact various facets in science, economy, and society – fostering citizen-based co-creative innovation.

The partner associations include: Ghent University, Wageningen University & Research, The Spanish National Research Council, Isobionics, ML6, Biofaction, Lantana, VIB (the Flanders Institute for Biotechnology), Barcelona Super-computing Center and Bioart Society.

In the project Bioart Society will work closely with Biofaction, a research and science communication company based in Vienna, to stimulate deeper reflection about convergence of AI/ML and SynBio. This will include initiating and developing interdisciplinary debate via panels, conferences, online discussion groups about the opportunities, risks and  responsibilities in linking the power of AI/ML with synbio. We will also organise a series of workshops, residency opportunities and a final exhibition and publication.

Details on these and open call opportunities will follow in 2024.     

Visit the project website for more information on the project and its objectives: