Renewable and Tuneable Bio-LPG Blends Derived from Amino Acids

Mohamed Amer, Robin Hoeven, Paul Kelly, Matthew Faulkner, Michael H Smith, Helen Toogood, Nigel Scrutton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Microbial biorefinery approaches are beginning to define renewable and sustainable routes to clean-burning and non-fossil fuel derived gaseous alkanes (known as ‘bio-LPG’). The most promising strategies have used a terminal fatty acid photodecarboxylase, enabling light-driven propane production from externally fed waste butyric acid. Use of Halomonas (a robust extremophile microbial chassis) with these pathways has enabled bio-LPG production under non-sterile conditions and using waste biomass as the carbon source. Here we describe new engineering approaches to produce next-generation pathways that use amino acids as fuel precursors for bio-LPG production (propane, butane and isobutane blends).
Results: Multiple pathways from the amino acids valine, leucine and isoleucine were designed in E. coli for the production of propane, isobutane and butane, respectively. A branched-chain keto acid decarboxylase-dependent pathway utilising fatty acid photodecarboxylase was the most effective route, generating higher alkane gas titres over alternative routes requiring coenzyme A and/or aldehyde deformylating oxygenase. Isobutane was the major gas produced in standard (mixed amino acid) medium, however valine supplementation led to primarily propane production. Transitioning pathways into Halomonas strain TQ10 enabled fermentative production of mixed alkane gases under non-sterile conditions on simple carbon sources. Chromosomal integration of inducible (~ 180 mg/g cells/day) and constitutive (~ 30 mg/g cells/day) pathways into Halomonas generated production strains shown to be stable for up to 7 days.
Conclusions: This study highlights new microbial pathways for the production of clean-burning bio LPG fuels from amino acids. The use of stable Halomonas production strains could lead to gas production in the field under non-sterile conditions following process optimisation.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jul 2020

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Manchester Institute of Biotechnology


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