Method for producing jet fuel from food and non-food feedstocks

Invention Summary:

A number of separate studies have shown that genome-scale flux-balance analysis (FBA) modeling can be useful for the in silico design of engineered strains of microbes that overproduce diverse targets. These engineered strains include Escherichia coli (E. coli) that overproduce lycopene, lactic acid, succinic acid, l-valine, l-threonine, and strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae that overproduce ethanol. FBA models allow the result of various genetic manipulations strategies to be predicted. As a result, the space of possible genetic manipulations can be computationally searched for the strategy that results in the desired metabolic network state. This space is vast, and algorithms must be designed to search the space efficiently.

Rutgers University researchers have developed a process for genetically engineering microorganisms for the efficient production of fatty acids. This process allows E. coli and other bacteria to be engineered for high-efficiency production of fatty acids, which can then be turned into biofuel. While bacteria can already be engineered to produce fatty acids, the greater the efficiency of the process in terms of its ability to produce a high yield of fatty acids for a given amount of feedstock, the cheaper the process. This organism is produced using a computational design process to identify favorable genetic modifications. An efficient computational method for in silico design called Genetic Design through Local Search (GDLS) has been developed. GDLS is a scalable heuristic algorithmic method that employs an approach based on local search with multiple search paths, resulting in effective, low-complexity search of the space of genetic manipulations.

GDLS was applied to find genetic design strategies for overproducing acetate and succinate using E. coli, which yielded results that were consistent with previous experimental studies. These compounds—acetate and succinate—are naturally produced and secreted by E. coli, and their design strategies improve the efficiency of converting the feedstock, glucose, into the desired compound by linking the organism’s biomass production with its production of the desired compound.

Fatty acids, metabolites of interest, are not naturally produced or secreted by E. coli unless an exogenous is introduced to cause the desired compound to be produced and secreted. This is the case with fatty acid production using E. coli cells will naturally produce fatty acids to make phospholipid that are incorporated into cellular components, but the fatty acids are not naturally secreted into the growth medium. Because there is no natural metabolic sink for fatty acids, it is difficult to substantially increase their production. By introducing either a modified version of the E. coli thioesterase gene tesA or certain plant thioesterases into E. coli, the organism will secrete free fatty acids; and the production of fatty acids become decoupled from synthesis of cellular components, allowing for overproduction.

Market Application:



Highly efficient production process

Intellectual Property & Development Status:

Patent pending. Available for licensing and/or research collaborations.

Rutgers ID: 2011-049
Physical Sciences
Kholud Dardir
Desmond Lun