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Front. Microbiol., 08 June 2012 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fmicb.2012.00196

Recent progress in synthetic biology for microbial production of C3–C10 alcohols

Edna N. Lamsen and Shota Atsumi*
  • Department of Chemistry, University of California, Davis, CA, USA

The growing need to address current energy and environmental problems has sparked an interest in developing improved biological methods to produce liquid fuels from renewable sources. While microbial ethanol production is well established, higher-chain alcohols possess chemical properties that are more similar to gasoline. Unfortunately, these alcohols (except 1-butanol) are not produced efficiently in natural microorganisms, and thus economical production in industrial volumes remains a challenge. Synthetic biology, however, offers additional tools to engineer synthetic pathways in user-friendly hosts to help increase titers and productivity of these advanced biofuels. This review concentrates on recent developments in synthetic biology to produce higher-chain alcohols as viable renewable replacements for traditional fuel.

Keywords: biofuel, butanol, higher-chain alcohol, isobutanol, metabolic engineering, synthetic biology

Citation: Lamsen EN and Atsumi S (2012) Recent progress in synthetic biology for microbial production of C3–C10 alcohols. Front. Microbio. 3:196. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2012.00196

Received: 29 March 2012; Accepted: 14 May 2012;
Published online: 08 June 2012.

Edited by:

Weiwen Zhang, Tianjin University, China

Reviewed by:

Ziyu Dai, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, USA
Shawn Chen, Ohio University, USA

Copyright: © 2012 Lamsen and Atsumi. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial License, which permits non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in other forums, provided the original authors and source are credited.

*Correspondence: Shota Atsumi, Department of Chemistry, University of California, One Shields Avenue, Davis, CA, USA. e-mail: atsumi@chem.ucdavis.edu