(571d) Engineering a Yeast Conversion System for the Novel Production of Alkanes

Blazeck, J., University of Texas at Austin
Alper, H., The University of Texas at Austin

Bio-derived alkanes are attractive second generation biofuels that circumvent some of the disadvantages associated with traditional biofuels.  Engineering alkane production in yeasts relies upon the metabolic engineering of fatty acid metabolism.  Fatty acids consist of a long aliphatic carbon chain decorated with only one carboxylic acid group, and thus serve as excellent substrates for alkane pathway engineering.  An attractive host for alkane production is Yarrowia lipolytica, an oleaginous yeast adept at producing high levels of fatty acids.  Here, we report the novel heterologous production of pentane in a Y. lipolytica fungal system by assembling a plant-derived pentane-production pathway.  Pentane production was optimized using environmental and genetic techniques including increasing precursor availability through genetic knockouts and media formulation and by employing promoter engineering and codon optimization for high enzyme expression levels.  Here, we will present the results of this optimization and discuss strategies for improved pentane production and for long chain alkane production in this yeast.