skip to main content


Title: Production of FAME biodiesel in E. coli by direct methylation with an insect enzyme

Here, most biodiesel currently in use consists of fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs) produced by transesterification of plant oils with methanol. To reduce competition with food supplies, it would be desirable to directly produce biodiesel in microorganisms. To date, the most effective pathway for the production of biodiesel in bacteria yields fatty acid ethyl esters (FAEEs) at up to ~1.5 g/L. A much simpler route to biodiesel produces FAMEs by direct S-adenosyl-L-methionine (SAM) dependent methylation of free fatty acids, but FAME production by this route has been limited to only ~16 mg/L. Here we employ an alternative, broad spectrum methyltransferase, Drosophila melanogaster Juvenile Hormone Acid O-Methyltransferase ( DmJHAMT). By introducing DmJHAMT in E. coli engineered to produce medium chain fatty acids and overproduce SAM, we obtain medium chain FAMEs at titers of 0.56 g/L, a 35-fold increase over titers previously achieved. Although considerable improvements will be needed for viable bacterial production of FAMEs and FAEEs for biofuels, it may be easier to optimize and transport the FAME production pathway to other microorganisms because it involves fewer enzymes.
 [1] ;  [1] ;  [1] ;  [1]
  1. Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA (United States)
Publication Date:
Grant/Contract Number:
Accepted Manuscript
Journal Name:
Scientific Reports
Additional Journal Information:
Journal Volume: 6; Journal ID: ISSN 2045-2322
Nature Publishing Group
Research Org:
Univ. of California, Los Angeles, CA (United States)
Sponsoring Org:
Country of Publication:
United States
59 BASIC BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES; biocatalysis; enzymes; metabolic engineering
OSTI Identifier: