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Redirecting the lipid metabolism of the yeast Starmerella bombicola from glycolipid to fatty acid production
- Jezierska, Sylwia, Claus, Silke, Ledesma-Amaro, Rodrigo, Van Bogaert, Inge
- Journal of industrial microbiology & biotechnology 2019 v.46 no.12 pp. 1697-1706
- Starmerella bombicola, beta oxidation, biosynthesis, cosmetics, fatty acids, free fatty acids, gasoline, lubricants, metabolic engineering, mutants, oils, paints, plastics, sophorolipids, surfactants, yeasts
- Free fatty acids are basic oleochemicals implemented in a range of applications including surfactants, lubricants, paints, plastics, and cosmetics. Microbial fatty acid biosynthesis has gained much attention as it provides a sustainable alternative for petrol- and plant oil-derived chemicals. The yeast Starmerella bombicola is a microbial cell factory that naturally employs its powerful lipid metabolism for the production of the biodetergents sophorolipids (> 300 g/L). However, in this study we exploit the lipidic potential of S. bombicola and convert it from the glycolipid production platform into a free fatty acid cell factory. We used several metabolic engineering strategies to promote extracellular fatty acid accumulation which include blocking competing pathways (sophorolipid biosynthesis and β-oxidation) and preventing free fatty acid activation. The best producing mutant (Δcyp52m1Δfaa1Δmfe2) secreted 0.933 g/L (± 0.04) free fatty acids with a majority of C18:1 (43.8%) followed by C18:0 and C16:0 (40.0 and 13.2%, respectively). Interestingly, deletion of SbFaa1 in a strain still producing sophorolipids also resulted in 25% increased de novo sophorolipid synthesis (P = 0.0089) and when oil was supplemented to the same strain, a 50% increase in sophorolipid production was observed compared to the wild type (P = 0.03). We believe that our work is pivotal for the further development and exploration of S. bombicola as a platform for synthesis of environmentally friendly oleochemicals.