Fatty Alcohol Production in Lipomyces starkeyi and Yarrowia lipolytica

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Background: Current biological pathways to produce biofuel intermediates amenable to separations and catalytic upgrading to hydrocarbon fuels are not cost effective. Previously, oleaginous yeasts have been investigated primarily for lipid production. However, yeasts store neutral lipids intracellularly making recovery difficult and expensive. In addition, once recovered from the cells, lipids are difficult to blend directly with the existing fuels without upgrading. We have, therefore, begun to investigate secreted fatty acid-derived products which can be easily recovered and upgraded to fuels. Results: In this study, we successfully demonstrate the production of fatty alcohols by the oleaginous yeasts, Yarrowia lipolytica and Lipomyces starkeyi, through expression of the fatty acyl-CoA reductase gene from Marinobactor aquaeolei VT8. This strategy resulted in the production of 167 and 770 mg/L of fatty alcohols in shake flask from Y. lipolytica and L starkeyi, respectively. When using a dodecane overlay during fermentation, 92 and 99% of total fatty alcohols produced by Y. lipolytica and L. starkeyi, respectively, were extracted into the dodecane phase, which compares favorably to the 3 and 50% recovered, respectively, without the dodecane layer. In both oleaginous yeasts, long chain length, saturated fatty alcohols, i.e., hexadecanol (C16:0) and octadecanol (C18:0), were predominant and accounted for more than 85% of the total fatty alcohols produced. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of fatty alcohol production in L. starkeyi. Conclusion: This work demonstrates that the oleaginous yeasts, Y. lipolytica and L. starkeyi, can serve as platform organisms for the production of fatty acid-derived biofuels and bioproducts.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number227
Number of pages12
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 The Author(s).

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-65740


  • Fatty alcohols
  • Lipomyces starkeyi
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Oleaginous yeasts
  • Yarrowia lipolytica


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