Genetically engineered microorganisms that metabolize xylose

The invention provides methods of boosting oil-bearing microbes with xylose as a fixed carbon source. Additionally provided are germs that have been genetically engineered to metabolize xylose as a fixed carbon source permitting them to convert xylose in to oils. Particular benefits of the procedures provided herein include production of oils rather than alcohols throughout the microbial fermentation processes using xylose.


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An important and difficult challenge in biotechnology is unleashing the vast potential of carbon capture from cellulosic materials for conversion to precious substances such as liquid gas, chemicals, food, and other products. One specificchallenge relates to using xylose, commonly found in depolymerized hemicellulose, as a carbon source for the heterotrophic cultivation of microorganisms. Although much work was performed in using xylose from the production of ethanol using yeast, mostyeast strains cannot use xylose or use xylose only very inefficiently (watch Jeffries, 2006, Curr. Op. Biotech. 17: 320-326; and Wang et al., 2004, Biotechnol. Lett. 26(11): 885-890).

Certain oleaginous microorganisms (e.g. oleaginous yeast and oleaginous microalgae) are effective at converting fixed-carbon energy resources into higher value products such as triglycerides, fatty acids, carbohydrates, and proteins. Additionally,the microalgae themselves may be valuable as a food supply. For instance, certain species of oleaginous microalgae have been scientifically engineered to produce”tailored oils”, which means that their triglyceride content reveals changed distributions offatty acid chain lengths and saturation relative to the strains from which they were derived. See PCT Pub. Nos. 2008/151149, 2009/126843, 2010/045358, 2010/063031 and 2010/063032 and PCT Program. Nos. U.S. Ser. No. 11/038,463 and U.S. Ser. No.11/038,464.

The capability to convert xylose into lipid and other products in meaningful amounts using oleaginous microorganisms are of major environmental significance since it would decrease our dependence on fossil fuels and decrease the cost of microbialoils.

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