Yeast cell factories for advanced biofuels and microbial robustness
Currently the carbon yield in conversion of glucose to free fatty acids is about 0.1 g/g, which represents about 30% of the theoretical yield. This has been achieved after more than 5 years of research on this topic. As part of the planned research activities financed by the Energy AoA we will continue engineering of the central carbon metabolism of yeast with the objective to further increase this yield. This will involve further over-expression of fatty acid synthase, integration of alternative routes for provision of precursors such as acetyl-CoA and NADPH, and evaluation of heterologous enzymes for conversion of free fatty acids to hydrocarbons. The goals are: 1) to engineer yeast to have high-yield conversion of sugars (glucose and xylose) to free fatty acids; and 2) to further convert the free fatty acids to hydrocarbons that can be used as drop-in fuels. Free fatty acids can be converted to hydrocarbons chemically (e.g. through the hydrogenation process currently used by Preem), but direct production of hydrocarbons by yeast could potentially drive down costs of production further. The co‑PI of the project is Dr. Verena Siewers who is supported by a pos doctoral researcher (Zhiwei Zhu).
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