In connection with the development of a fossil-free society it is necessary to develop a range of novel energy solutions. Whereas solar and wind is likely to enable generation of electricity that can be used for electric cars it will be challenging to replace the high-density liquid transportation fuels used in heavy trucks and jets with other energy sources. In this project we will therefore work on engineering yeast metabolism to produce alkanes that can be used as drop-in fuels in diesel and kerosene. Alkanes can be produced from fatty acids through a two step pathway via fatty aldehydes. This pathway is quite inefficient in yeast and a key part of this project will therefore be to identify novel enzymes that can efficiently convert fatty acids to alkanes. To do this there will be applied a completely novel approach, where two cellular biosensors will be developed for detection of the starting metabolite and the end product of the alkane pathway. By expressing both of these biosensors in yeast it will be possible to use high-throughput screening by fluorescent activated cell sorting (FACS) for identification of more efficient pathway enzymes. When efficient pathway enzymes have been identified these will be expressed in a yeast strain that at the same time is extensively engineered in its fatty acid biosynthesis such that it has a high carbon yield efficiency in the conversion of sugars to fatty acids, and further to alkanes.
Professor at Biology and Biological Engineering, Systems and Synthetic Biology
Funding years 2017–2020
Chalmers Driving Force