Enabling the synthesis of medium chain alkanes and 1-alkenes in yeast

Zhiwei Zhu, Yongjin J. Zhou, Min Kyoung Kang, Anastasia Krivoruchko, Nicolaas A. Buijs, Jens Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Microbial synthesis of medium chain aliphatic hydrocarbons, attractive drop-in molecules to gasoline and jet fuels, is a promising way to reduce our reliance on petroleum-based fuels. In this study, we enabled the synthesis of straight chain hydrocarbons (C7–C13) by yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae through engineering fatty acid synthases to control the chain length of fatty acids and introducing heterologous pathways for alkane or 1-alkene synthesis. We carried out enzyme engineering/screening of the fatty aldehyde deformylating oxygenase (ADO), and compartmentalization of the alkane biosynthesis pathway into peroxisomes to improve alkane production. The two-step synthesis of alkanes was found to be inefficient due to the formation of alcohols derived from aldehyde intermediates. Alternatively, the drain of aldehyde intermediates could be circumvented by introducing a one-step decarboxylation of fatty acids to 1-alkenes, which could be synthesized at a level of 3 mg/L, 25-fold higher than that of alkanes produced via aldehydes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalMetabolic Engineering
Pages (from-to)81-88
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • 1-Alkenes
  • Alkanes
  • Medium-chain fatty acids
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae

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