Biofuels Production projects
Bioengineering and Selection for Biodiesel Production in Bacteria - Completed
This project evaluated the potential for engineering microbial strains that will produce biodiesel precursors — TAGs (triacylglycerols) or FFAs (free fatty acids) — leading to lower cost production. The group combined biochemical and metabolic engineering with experimental evolution to generate bacteria with enhanced capabilities of FFA, TAG or fatty acid alkyl esters (FAAE) production in E. coli. This type of bacterial engineering for bio-oil production entails the transfer of genes from very divergent lineages.
Lykidis’s team identified a novel bacterial fatty acid methyltransferase (FAMT), which catalyzes the formation of fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs)(biodiesel) and 3-hydroxyl fatty acid methyl esters (3-OH-FAMEs) utilizing fatty acids and S-adenosyl methionine (AdoMet). They also identified bacterial members of the fatty acyl-ACP thioesterase (FAT) enzyme family with distinct acyl chain specificities. These bacterial FATs generate free fatty acids and 3-OH-FFAs, which can subsequently be used by FAMT to produce FAMEs and 3-OH-FAMEs.