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Biomass, Biofuels, Biochemicals
2022, 215-232

Microbial fermentation via genetically engineered microorganisms for production of bioenergy and biochemicals

Kang Zhou, Jie Fu J. Zhou

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, National University of Singapore, Singapore.


In the past four decades, genetic engineering has been used to alter metabolism of microorganisms for overproducing valuable molecules. It hijacks the metabolism to provide the building blocks, energy, reducing equivalents and catalysts needed by the product formation. Some of the developed processes were designed to use waste streams as carbon and energy source to mitigate environmental problems associated with waste disposal and/or to reduce the process’ substrate cost. In this chapter, we used a few examples to explain some basic principles involved in developing such processes. The contents are organized as two major sections: making new products and utilizing new feedstocks. The first major section uses the Genomatica’s 1,4-butanediol story to explain how metabolic engineering can be used to make a useful chemical no wild-type organism can produce. The second major section summarizes more than two decades of works toward teaching Baker’s yeast to grow on xylose, an important substrate derived from lignocellulosic waste. The majority of the covered works are motivated by improving the bioethanol production, which is highly relevant to the concept of bioenergy. The contents of this chapter should be useful in guiding students and researchers interested in using genetic engineering to improve waste valorization/upcycling.

Keywords: Metabolic engineering, Adaptive laboratory evolution, Genetic engineering, Waste upcycling, Escherichia coli, Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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