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Crop Biotech Update

Mexican Researchers Enhance Lipid Production in Yeast

January 31, 2018

Yarrowia lipolytica is a common biotechnological platform for the production of lipids, the preferred feedstock for the production of biofuels and chemicals. To reduce the cost of microbial lipid production, inexpensive carbon sources should be used, such as lignocellulosic hydrolysates. Unfortunately, lignocellulosic materials often contain toxic compounds and a large amount of xylose, which cannot be used by the yeast.

The team of Xochitl Niehus from the Centro de Investigación y Asistencia en Tecnología y Diseño del Estado de Jalisco in Mexico engineered the yeast to use xylose as a carbon source for the production of lipids. The team achieved this by overexpressing native genes of Y. lipolytica.

The lipid content was further increased in the yeast by overexpressing the inserted genes involved in the production of lipid precursors from xylose in Y. lipolytica. The engineered strains were able to produce high yields of lipids on a xylose-rich agave bagasse hydrolysate inspite of the presence of toxic compounds.

This study shows the potential of metabolic engineering in reducing costs by allowing lipid production from inexpensive feedstock.