A Homologous Biosynthetic Pathway for the Production of Biofuels

Challenge: Concerns about climate change and oil supply reserves are driving current interest in the development of alternative fuels produced from renewable resources. The fields of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology are addressing this challenge by designing microbial factories to synthesize valuable chemical products for use in industrial applications and as biofuels. These products require less energy to produce and create less waste than those produced from fossil resources.However natural microbial producers of these chemicals often grow at slow rates and produce additional fermentation products. Alternative platforms based on E. coli and S. cerevisiae have been developed for the production of biofuels but such methods rely on the transfer of non-native DNA to these host organisms that are otherwise unable to produce the chemical products. The resulting foreign pathways in the engineered hosts suffer from low efficiencies that lead to decreased yields of desired products. Solution: The present method enables the production of hydrocarbons alcohols and carboxylic acids from E. coli and S. cerevisiae sources using native biosynthetic pathways and a minimal set of enzymes. This engineered biosynthetic pathway enables maximum carbon and energy efficiency in the production of straight chain aliphatic carboxylic acids and n-alcohols with various chain lengths and functionalities. The diversification of chemical products offered by this method represents a potential metabolic platform for the efficient production of second-generation biofuels. Market Potential / Applications: This invention finds potential utility in the production of renewable long-chain biofuels and chemicals and should be of interest to energy companies and chemical manufacturers. Development and Licensing Status: This method has been demonstrated on a laboratory scale and is available for licensing from Rice University.


1) Method amenable to production of higher chain linear alcohols (e.g. butanol) and long chain fatty acids (C >10) 2) Method allows controlled diversification of these chemical products 3) Biosynthetic pathway employs native genes and enzymes for increased efficiency

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