Research break-through: Producing gasoline in yeast cell factories

Image Caption: This is the structure of the FAS enzyme (left), and foreign enzymes embedded into the chambers of FAS (right). (Credits: Zhiwei Zhu)

There have been many attempts to modify this stubborn little enzyme. But none have succeeded, until now. With new findings from Chalmers the enzyme FAS has started to produce sustainable chemicals for biofuels.

We are in great need of sustainable and clean alternatives to oil-derived products. One of the choices at hand is to produce chemicals and biofuels from sustainable biomass.

To do this, researchers in the group of Professor Jens Nielsen at the Department of Biology and Biological Engineering is hard at work trying to design yeast cell factories that can actually produce the chemicals we need in a sustainable way. The group now had a major break-through, as they developed a novel method of changing the enzyme FAS, fatty acid synthase, into producing new products.
– This enzyme normally synthesizes long chain fatty acids, but we have now modified it into synthesizing medium chain fatty acids and methyl ketones – chemicals that are components in currently used transportation fuels, Post-doc Zhiwei Zhu explains.
– In other words: We are able to produce gasoline and jet fuel alternatives by yeast cell factories, and this has never been done before.

Read more at Chalmers University of Technology

Source: ENN, 2017