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Engineering Yarrowia lipolytica towards food waste bioremediation: Production of fatty acid ethyl esters from vegetable cooking oil

Tee-Kheang Ng, Ai-Qun Yu, , Nina Kurniasih Pratomo Juwono, Won Jae Choi, Susanna Su Jan Leong,
Published: 1 January 2020
Journal of Bioscience and Bioengineering , Volume 129, pp 31-40; doi:10.1016/j.jbiosc.2019.06.009

Abstract: Fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs) can potentially be used as biodiesel, which provides a renewable alternative to petroleum-derived diesel. FAEEs are primarily produced via transesterification of vegetable oil with an alcohol catalyzed by a strong base, which raises safety concerns. Microbial production presents a more environmentally sustainable method for FAEE production, and by harnessing the ability of oleaginous yeast Yarrowia lipolytica to degrade and assimilate hydrophobic substrates, FAEE production could be coupled to food waste bioremediation. In this study, we engineered Y. lipolytica to produce FAEEs from dextrose as well as from vegetable cooking oil as a model food waste. Firstly, we introduced pyruvate decarboxylase (pdc) and alcohol dehydrogenase II (adhB) from Zymomonas mobilis to reconstitute the heterologous pathway for ethanol production. Second, we introduced and compared two heterologous wax ester synthases ws2 and maqu_0168 from Marinobacter sp. for FAEE biosynthesis. Next, we disrupted competitive pathways to increase fatty acyl-CoA pool, and optimized carbon sources and cell density for shake-flask fermentation. The engineered strain showed a 24-fold improvement in FAEE production titer over the starting strain. Moreover, we explored the potential of the engineered strain for FAEE production from the model food waste by supplementing vegetable cooking oil to the culture medium. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on FAEE production with the supplementation of vegetable cooking oil in Y. lipolytica. These findings provide valuable insights into the engineering of Y. lipolytica for high-level production of FAEEs and its utilization in food waste bioremediation.
Keywords: Biodiesel / Bioremediation / Fatty acid ethyl esters / Metabolic engineering / Vegetable cooking oil / Yarrowia lipolytica

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