Submitted to: Book Chapter
Publication Type: Book / Chapter
Publication Acceptance Date: May 15, 2006
Publication Date: December 26, 2006
Citation: Hou, C.T. 2006. Biotransformation of aliphatic hydrocarbons and fatty acids. In: Hou, C.T., editor. Biocatalysis and Biotechnology for Functional Foods and Industrial Products. New York, NY:CRC Press. 227-265. Technical Abstract: Biotransformations are defined, in this chapter, as microbial (or enzymatic) reactions which produce a chemical in which most of the carbon skeleton is derived intact from the substrate. Useful transformations may be simple one-step reaction or those involving a few sequential steps, where reaction products can be isolated and identified. Biotransformations may be brought about by constitutive or inducible enzymes, or they may be due to the broad substrate specificity of essential enzymes in microorganisms. Advantages of biotransformations over chemical processes may be summarized as follows: 1. Biotransformation takes place under mild conditions. Therefore, chemicals can be converted into desirable products without decomposition. With mild reaction conditions, bioprocesses save not only operation energy, but also capital investment. 2. A bioprocess can produce stereospecific products by attacking a specific site of the substrate molecule. 3. Several reactions can be combined into one transformation step and may actually be programmed to occur in a specific sequence. Enzymes catalyzing the conversion of aliphatic hydrocarbons and fatty acids have great similarity. They are: oxygenases, dehydrogenases, lipoxygenases and lipases. This chapter provides up-to-date information on biotransformation of aliphatic hydrocarbons and fatty acids for useful or potentially useful industrial products.