Continuous photoproduction of hydrocarbon drop-in fuel by microbial cell factories

Solène Moulin 1 Bertrand Legeret 1 Stéphanie Blangy 1 Damien Sorigué 1 Adrien Burlacot 1 Pascaline Auroy 1 Yonghua Li-Beisson 1 Gilles Peltier 1 Fred Beisson 1
1 EBM - Bioénergie et Microalgues
BIAM - Institut de Biosciences et Biotechnologies d'Aix-Marseille (ex-IBEB) : DRF/BIAM
Abstract : Use of microbes to produce liquid transportation fuels is not yet economically viable. A key point to reduce production costs is the design a cell factory that combines the continuous production of drop-in fuel molecules with the ability to recover products from the cell culture at low cost. Medium-chain hydrocarbons seem ideal targets because they can be produced from abundant fatty acids and, due to their volatility, can be easily collected in gas phase. However, pathways used to produce hydrocarbons from fatty acids require two steps, low efficient enzymes and/or complex electron donors. Recently, a new hydrocarbon-forming route involving a single enzyme called fatty acid photodecarboxylase (FAP) was discovered in microalgae. Here, we show that in illuminated E. coli cultures coexpression of FAP and a medium-chain fatty acid thioesterase results in continuous release of volatile hydrocarbons. Maximum hydrocarbon productivity was reached under low/medium light while higher irradiance resulted in decreased amounts of fAp. it was also found that the production rate of hydrocarbons was constant for at least 5 days and that 30% of total hydrocarbons could be collected in the gas phase of the culture. this work thus demonstrates that the photochemistry of the fAp can be harnessed to design a simple cell factory that continuously produces hydrocarbons easy to recover and in pure form.
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Solène Moulin, Bertrand Legeret, Stéphanie Blangy, Damien Sorigué, Adrien Burlacot, et al.. Continuous photoproduction of hydrocarbon drop-in fuel by microbial cell factories. Scientific Reports, Nature Publishing Group, 2019, 9 (1), ⟨10.1038/s41598-019-50261-6⟩. ⟨hal-02294535⟩

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