Scientists Engineer E. Coli to Produce Psilocybin

The authors say this work is “a significant step towards demonstrating the feasibility of industrial production of biologically-derived psilocybin.”

December 2019

Using genetic engineering, researchers have successfully produced psilocybin from the bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli).1 This is the first time psilocybin has been produced from a prokaryotic organism (prokaryotes are single-celled organisms with no membrane-bound nucleus or other organelles).

After engineering the E. coli to produce psilocybin, the researchers optimized and improved the biosynthesis pathway by evaluating several gene optimization techniques. In the end, they achieved a 32-fold improvement in psilocybin titer (concentration), reaching 1.16 g/L. This is the highest psilocybin production titer achieved so far from a recombinant organism.