APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Biofuel production
- Semi-synthetic drug synthesis
- Flavor and fragrance production
- Enables diverse functionalization of terpenoid structures
- Increases the diversity of chemicals available
- Reduces costs of chemical production
A Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) research team led by Jay Keasling has invented a method to produce a terpene product with a carbon number that is not a multiple of five, yielding fuel-like molecules with different physical properties such as energy density, flash point, viscosity, melting temperature, and water retention than the 5-, 10-, and 15-carbon isoprenoids under exploration as fuels.
Biosynthesis of almost all terpenes starts results in backbones that are multiples of five carbons, which makes it difficult for researchers to synthesize terpenoid compounds with backbone carbon numbers not in multiples of five. Lepidoptera and other related organisms have the ability produce six carbon compounds through the mevalonate pathway used to make juvenile hormones. By coupling Lepidoptera mevalonate pathway enzymes with a terpene cyclase, researchers are targeting sixteen, seventeen, and eighteen carbon terpenes. JBEI researchers are also targeting a precursor for making eleven and twelve carbon terpenes, as well as novel terpenoid backbone configurations caused by unique carbon cyclization.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Research stage.
STATUS: Patent pending. Available for licensing or collaborative research.
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