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Microalgae are a promising feedstock for biodiesel and other liquid fuels due to their fast growth rate, high lipid yields, and ability to grow in a broad range of environments. However, many microalgae achieve maximal lipid yields only under stress conditions hindering growth and providing compositions not ideal for biofuel applications. Metabolic engineering of algal fatty acid biosynthesis promises to create strains capable of economically producing fungible and sustainable biofuels. The algal fatty acid biosynthetic pathway has been deduced by homology to bacterial and plant systems, and much of our understanding is gleaned from basic studies in these systems. However, successful engineering of lipid metabolism in algae will necessitate a thorough characterization of the algal fatty acid synthase (FAS) including protein-protein interactions and regulation. This review describes recent efforts to engineer fatty acid biosynthesis toward optimizing microalgae as a biodiesel feedstock. Copyright © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.


Jillian L Blatti, Jennifer Michaud, Michael D Burkart. Engineering fatty acid biosynthesis in microalgae for sustainable biodiesel. Current opinion in chemical biology. 2013 Jun;17(3):496-505

PMID: 23683348

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