The Sun Rises in the Yeast

Humble Beginnings from a Southern California Garage

In an ordinary garage in Orange, California, a young scientist looked down in disappointment at murky tubes of E. coli from a broken-down centrifuge. Realizing his centrifuge wasn’t fast enough to spin down E. coli, the virologist put off his dreams of creating gene therapy products for the only thing he could spin down – yeast.

The small pellet that emerged from the centrifuge marked the beginning of Zymo Research Corporation and the start of a revolution in yeast research technologies. Zymo Research’s first product, the EZ Yeast Transformation Kit, was developed and officially launched by the company founder in 1994. With a new vision and scarce resources, he eliminated 9 of the 11 steps in yeast transformation, making the process easier and 100 times more efficient than standard protocols. This novel transformation system enabled the preparation of yeast competent cells in just 10 minutes, followed by a one-step transformation procedure. Now, instead of taking a week to complete a yeast transformation, it took less than one hour.

With just one part-time employee and no marketing budget, Zymo Research quickly emerged as a leader in the field of yeast research due to its versatile and cost-effective transformation technology. Today, Zymo Research’s Frozen-EZ Yeast Transformation II Kit is widely cited and has been used by thousands of scientists for a diverse array of applications such as two-hybrid system screening, genetic manipulation, metabolic engineering, and synthetic biology.

As the company grew, it expanded its focus to include plasmid purification, DNA/RNA isolation, and next-generation sequencing, while becoming an industry leader in the fields of epigenetics and microbiomics. Without the need for investors, Zymo Research was able to build on passion and the voices of customers, instead of investment dollars. This allowed the company to listen to what researchers needed and act immediately to provide highly advanced technology that made their work simple.

The first Zymo Research products revolving around yeast technologies eventually paved the way for a plethora of innovative products offered today. While the company has evolved, the three budding yeast cells that still adorn Zymo Research’s logo are a constant reminder of its roots. They represent a timeless promise that its growth will always stem from its overarching mission to provide reliable, valuable biomedical tools to the research community.

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