Genome Engineering of E. coli for Improved Styrene Production

Jeffrey Cameron, Liya Liang, Rongming Liu, Kyle Foster, Alaksh Choudhury, Sherri Cook, Wil Srubar III, Ryan Gill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

33 Scopus Citations


Microbial production of exogenous organic compounds is challenging as biosynthetic pathways are often complex and produce metabolites that are toxic to the hosts. Biogenic styrene is an example of this problem, which if addressed could result in a more sustainable supply of this important component of the plastics industry. In this study, we engineered Escherichia coli for the production of styrene. We systematically optimized the production capability by first screening different pathway expression levels in E. coli strains. We then further designed and constructed a transcription regulator library targeting 54 genes with 85,420 mutations, and tested this library for increased styrene resistance and production. A series of tolerant mutants not only exhibited improved styrene tolerance but also produced higher styrene concentrations compared to the parent strain. The best producing mutant, ST05 LexA_E45I, produced a 3.45-fold increase in styrene compared to the parent strain. The produced styrene was extracted via gas stripping into dodecane and used in a direct free radical synthesis of polystyrene.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)74-84
Number of pages11
JournalMetabolic Engineering
StatePublished - 2020

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-74993


  • genome engineering
  • polymerization
  • styrene
  • transcriptional regulators


Dive into the research topics of 'Genome Engineering of E. coli for Improved Styrene Production'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this