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Researchers report first microbial synthesis of sabinene, a biofuel precursor

10 February 2014

Researchers from the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology, Chinese Academy of Sciences report the first microbial synthesis of sabinene—a monoterpene that can serve as a aviation biofuel precursor—from an engineered strain of E. coli. An open access paper on their work is published in the journal Microbial Cell Factories.

Sabinene (CAS: 3387-41-5), a perfume additive, is being explored as the components for the next generation aircraft fuel. Meanwhile, sabinene contributes to the spiciness of black pepper, is a principal component of carrot seed oil, and occurs at a low concentration in tea tree oil. Currently, sabinene is extracted from plants, which is inefficient and requires substantial expenditure of natural resources because of the low content of them. Though sabinene was found in the culture of an endophytic Phomopsis sp. as a component of its volatile organic compounds, further work need to be done for microbial production method because of the low tilter in the mixture. Consequently, green and sustainable microbial technologies, which could engineer microorganisms to convert renewable resources from biomass to biobased advanced biofuels, provided an alternative strategy.

In this paper, sabinene was significantly produced by assembling a biosynthetic pathway using the MEP [methylerythritol 4-phosphate] or heterologous MVA [ mevalonate] pathway combining the GPP and sabinene synthase genes in an engineered E. coli strain.

—Zhang et al.

The culture medium and process conditions were optimized to enhance sabinene production with a maximum titer of 82.18 mg/L. The fed-batch fermentation of sabinene was evaluated using the optimized culture medium and process conditions, which reached a maximum concentration of 2.65 g/L with an average productivity of 0.018 g h-1 g-1 dry cells, and the conversion efficiency of glycerol to sabinene (gram to gram) reached 3.49%.

Resources

  • Haibo Zhang, Qiang Liu, Yujin Cao, Xinjun Feng, Yanning Zheng, Huibin Zou, Hui Liu, Jianming Yang and Mo Xian (2014) “Microbial production of sabinene—a new terpene-based precursor of advanced biofuel,” Microbial Cell Factories 13:20 doi: 10.1186/1475-2859-13-20

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