INTEGRATIVE PROCESSES FOR THE BIOCONVERSION OF FATS, OILS AND THEIR DERIVATIVES INTO BIOBASED MATERIALS AND PRODUCTS
Location: Eastern Regional Research Center
Project Number: 1935-41000-067-00
Start Date: Jul 02, 2004
End Date: Jun 30, 2009
The overall objective is to develop fermentation-based bioprocess systems that utilize the renewable agricultural fats, oils and coproducts (AFOC) as feedstocks to ultimately produce value-added bioproducts with enhanced properties and environmental benefits. Specific objectives are to expand the list of bioproducts producible via the fermentation of AFOC, to increase yields, expand variety, and improve properties of the target bioproducts via strain improvement, fermentation manipulation, and post-production modification; and to develop end-product applications for the bioproducts.
The capability of various AFOC to support cell growth of microorganisms that produce the target bioproducts -- rhamnolipids (RL), sophorolipids (SL), poly(hydroxyalkanoates) (PHA), gamma-polyglutamic acid and cyanophycin -- will be investigated. Genes needed for efficient production of bioproducts from AFOC will be identified, cloned, characterized and expressed. Chimeric genes and mutants having novel substrate specificity will be generated from PHA synthase genes with different PHA compositional profiles. Genes of enzymes or regulatory proteins involved in the biosynthesis of SL in Candida and RL in Pseudomonas will be cloned and characterized for subsequent protein and metabolic engineering to improve product variety and yield. Fed-batch and continuous culture techniques will be explored to increase the yields of bioproducts from fermentation of AFOC. Sophorolipids will be used to prepare new materials such as gemini surfactants, polymers of SL, value-added fatty acids, and bolaamphiphiles. Reactive functional groups, especially amino groups, will be incorporated to the sidechains of PHA for altered property and subsequent derivatization.