Engineering a robust biocatalyst for sustainable biofuel production
This project aims to engineer the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica as robust biocatalyst for sustainable production of biodiesel and other oleochemicals, through reverse engineering of genetic targets that have been identified from adaptive laboratory evolution experiments
performed earlier in this project.
Biocatalysts play a crucial role in biorefineries—recognized as elemental for transitioning to an advanced bioeconomy—by converting renewable feedstocks to biofuels and other bio-
based chemicals. This addresses UN Development Goals 7 and 12: affordable and clean energy; and responsible consumption and production.
Biocatalysts used in industrial biorefineries can be exposed to harsh conditions that strongly affect the process’ efficiency, including elevated temperature and acidic pH. Improving the harsh conditions through e.g. purification of the biomass or lowering temperature is no option, as this would drastically increase costs. Consequently, tolerance of biocatalysts to industrial conditions strongly benefits biorefineries.
The yeast Y. lipolytica is a promising biocatalyst for biofuel production, as it can accumulate lipids as triacylglycerides (TAGs) to over 85 % of its biomass, while TAGs can be hydrolysed to yield biodiesel. However, successful industrial application of Y. lipolytica as biocatalyst has been precluded by its limited robustness. Our goal is to establish Y. lipolytica as a robust biocatalyst through adaptive laboratory evolution and genome engineering.
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