APPLICATIONS OF TECHNOLOGY:
- Oil recovery, bioremediation, crop protection, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals
- Rhamnolipids (RLs) are industrially well known surfactants, so far only produced by biological routes from sugar. Engineered M. alcaliphilum strain DASS can convert waste-greenhouse gas, methane to rhamnolipids without addition of sugars and other hydrocarbon supplementation.
- M. alcaliphilum strain DASS can also produce and secrete ~5X more fatty acids compared to its wild type parent.
- M. alcaliphilum strain DASS can be a beneficial biocatalyst in establishing methane conversion technology to other value added products
- Rhamnolipids are glycolipid biomolecules that are particularly effective bio-surfactants in a range of applications and have been discussed as a replacement for currently produced synthetic surfactants. However, high purity RLs are produced from organic substrates and are too costly to be employed at large scale ($400/g). Present day technology utilizes the strain of opportunistic pathogen Pseudomonas aeruginosa or its derivatives, which has led to biosafety concerns and limits the commercial use of the bio-surfactant. As a result, there is a need for an alternatively low-cost substrate and a platform host that can be engineered to produce RLs.
Researchers at Berkeley Lab have developed a novel method to engineer the microbial strain of Methylomicrobium alcaliphilum into a recombinant RL producer.
The engineered strain M. alcaliphilum DASS can tolerate up to 5 g/L RLs. This adapted strain currently produces a comparatively higher titer of fatty acids than does the parent strain DSM19304. Also, while the M. alcaliphilum WT strain that harbored the RL expression plasmid (pDA21) showed very poor and slow growth, the adapted strain successfully produced ~600 fold higher RLs (~ 0.65 mg/L) with methane as the sole carbon source (reducing the need for high-cost sugar and other high cost carbohydrate supplementation .
Through this newly developed strain, researchers overcame the challenge of RL toxicity, directed its metabolism for higher fatty acid synthesis, and successfully engineered it to produce a non-native product, RL, in a low-cost substrate/media.
DEVELOPMENT STAGE: Proven principle
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
STATUS: Patent pending.
OPPORTUNITIES: Available for licensing or collaborative research.
SEE THESE OTHER BERKELEY LAB TECHNOLOGIES IN THIS FIELD:
- Synthetic Biology Tools