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Synthetic Biology underpins advances in the bioeconomy

Biological systems - including the simplest cells - exhibit a broad range of functions to thrive in their environment. Research in the Imperial College Centre for Synthetic Biology is focused on the possibility of engineering the underlying biochemical processes to solve many of the challenges facing society, from healthcare to sustainable energy. In particular, we model, analyse, design and build biological and biochemical systems in living cells and/or in cell extracts, both exploring and enhancing the engineering potential of biology. 

As part of our research we develop novel methods to accelerate the celebrated Design-Build-Test-Learn synthetic biology cycle. As such research in the Centre for Synthetic Biology highly multi- and interdisciplinary covering computational modelling and machine learning approaches; automated platform development and genetic circuit engineering ; multi-cellular and multi-organismal interactions, including gene drive and genome engineering; metabolic engineering; in vitro/cell-free synthetic biology; engineered phages and directed evolution; and biomimetics, biomaterials and biological engineering.



BibTex format

author = {Bruder, S and Moldenhauer, EJ and Lemke, RD and Ledesma-Amaro, R and Kabisch, J},
doi = {10.1186/s13068-019-1542-4},
journal = {Biotechnol Biofuels},
pages = {1--13},
title = {Drop-in biofuel production using fatty acid photodecarboxylase from Chlorella variabilis in the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica.},
url = {},
volume = {12},
year = {2019}

RIS format (EndNote, RefMan)

AB - Background: Oleaginous yeasts are potent hosts for the renewable production of lipids and harbor great potential for derived products, such as biofuels. Several promising processes have been described that produce hydrocarbon drop-in biofuels based on fatty acid decarboxylation and fatty aldehyde decarbonylation. Unfortunately, besides fatty aldehyde toxicity and high reactivity, the most investigated enzyme, aldehyde-deformylating oxygenase, shows unfavorable catalytic properties which hindered high yields in previous metabolic engineering approaches. Results: To demonstrate an alternative alkane production pathway for oleaginous yeasts, we describe the production of diesel-like, odd-chain alkanes and alkenes, by heterologously expressing a recently discovered light-driven oxidase from Chlorella variabilis (CvFAP) in Yarrowia lipolytica. Initial experiments showed that only strains engineered to have an increased pool of free fatty acids were susceptible to sufficient decarboxylation. Providing these strains with glucose and light in a synthetic medium resulted in titers of 10.9 mg/L of hydrocarbons. Using custom 3D printed labware for lighting bioreactors, and an automated pulsed glycerol fed-batch strategy, intracellular titers of 58.7 mg/L were achieved. The production of odd-numbered alkanes and alkenes with a length of 17 and 15 carbons shown in previous studies could be confirmed. Conclusions: Oleaginous yeasts such as Yarrowia lipolytica can transform renewable resources such as glycerol into fatty acids and lipids. By heterologously expressing a fatty acid photodecarboxylase from the algae Chlorella variabilis hydrocarbons were produced in several scales from microwell plate to 400 mL bioreactors. The lighting turned out to be a crucial factor in terms of growth and hydrocarbon production, therefore, the evaluation of different conditions was an important step towards a tailor-made process. In general, the developed bioprocess shows a route t
AU - Bruder,S
AU - Moldenhauer,EJ
AU - Lemke,RD
AU - Ledesma-Amaro,R
AU - Kabisch,J
DO - 10.1186/s13068-019-1542-4
EP - 13
PY - 2019///
SN - 1754-6834
SP - 1
TI - Drop-in biofuel production using fatty acid photodecarboxylase from Chlorella variabilis in the oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica.
T2 - Biotechnol Biofuels
UR -
UR -
UR -
UR -
VL - 12
ER -