Ethylene-Forming Enzyme and Bioethylene Production

Carrie Eckert, Wu Xu, Wei Xiong, Sean Lynch, Justin Ungerer, Ling Tao, Ryan Gill, Pin Ching Maness, Jianping Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

87 Scopus Citations


Worldwide, ethylene is the most produced organic compound. It serves as a building block for a wide variety of plastics, textiles, and chemicals, and a process has been developed for its conversion into liquid transportation fuels. Currently, commercial ethylene production involves steam cracking of fossil fuels, and is the highest CO2-emitting process in the chemical industry. Therefore, there is great interest in developing technology for ethylene production from renewable resources including CO2 and biomass. Ethylene is produced naturally by plants and some microbes that live with plants. One of the metabolic pathways used by microbes is via an ethylene-forming enzyme (EFE), which uses -ketoglutarate and arginine as substrates. EFE is a promising biotechnology target because the expression of a single gene is sufficient for ethylene production in the absence of toxic intermediates. Here we present the first comprehensive review and analysis of EFE, including its discovery, sequence diversity, reaction mechanism, predicted involvement in diverse metabolic modes, heterologous expression, and requirements for harvesting of bioethylene. A number of knowledge gaps and factors that limit ethylene productivity are identified, as well as strategies that could guide future research directions.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number33
Number of pages11
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-60635


  • Bioethylene
  • Diversity
  • Ethylene-forming enzyme
  • Heterologous expression
  • Mechanism


Dive into the research topics of 'Ethylene-Forming Enzyme and Bioethylene Production'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this