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Nat Commun. 2011 Sep 27;2:483. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1494.

Identification and microbial production of a terpene-based advanced biofuel.

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Joint BioEnergy Institute, 5885 Hollis Avenue, Emeryville, California 94608, USA.


Rising petroleum costs, trade imbalances and environmental concerns have stimulated efforts to advance the microbial production of fuels from lignocellulosic biomass. Here we identify a novel biosynthetic alternative to D2 diesel fuel, bisabolane, and engineer microbial platforms for the production of its immediate precursor, bisabolene. First, we identify bisabolane as an alternative to D2 diesel by measuring the fuel properties of chemically hydrogenated commercial bisabolene. Then, via a combination of enzyme screening and metabolic engineering, we obtain a more than tenfold increase in bisabolene titers in Escherichia coli to >900 mg l(-1). We produce bisabolene in Saccharomyces cerevisiae (>900 mg l(-1)), a widely used platform for the production of ethanol. Finally, we chemically hydrogenate biosynthetic bisabolene into bisabolane. This work presents a framework for the identification of novel terpene-based advanced biofuels and the rapid engineering of microbial farnesyl diphosphate-overproducing platforms for the production of biofuels.

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