NOVEL TECHNOLOGIES FOR PRODUCING RENEWABLE CHEMICALS AND POLYMERS FROM CARBOHYDRATES DERIVED FROM AGRICULTURAL FEEDSTOCKS
Location: Renewable Product Technology Research Unit
Project Number: 3620-41000-154-00
Start Date: Aug 10, 2010
End Date: Aug 09, 2015
The broad goal of this project is to develop technologies for producing specialty/commodity chemicals and polymers from agriculturally derived carbohydrates. Objective 1: Develop commercially viable biocatalytic and chemical processes that enable the production of chemicals and monomers from agricultural feedstocks. Objective 2: Develop commercially viable biocatalytic processes that enable the production of novel biopolymers from agricultural feedstocks.
This research will specifically include the following strategies to achieve our objectives: (1) sequential metabolic engineering improvements of key metabolic steps of the fungus Rhizopus to enhance the production of carboxylic acids, including malic, fumaric, and lactic acid, which are all used as chemical feedstock in numerous manufacturing applications; (2) modification of carbohydrates through novel water based methods for the production of functional products, such as surfactants or detergents; (3) screening for superior isolates of the fungus Aureobasidium and fermentation optimization for improved bioproduction of the polyester, poly malic acid, which has the potential to be used as a biocompatible polymer; and (4) strain selection, fermentation optimization, and genetic modification of the bacterium Leuconostoc to enable enhanced production of a water insoluble polymer, alpha D glucan, which can be used in the production of polymer fibers and films. Accomplishing these objectives will allow for the development of new and improved methods for producing sustainable chemicals and polymers that can be employed in everyday consumer products.