Engineering yarrowia lipolytica for enhanced production of lipid and citric acid

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Increasing demand for plant oil for food, feed, and fuel production has led to food-fuel competition, higher plant lipid cost, and more need for agricultural land. On the other hand, the growing global production of biodiesel has increased the production of glycerol as a by-product. Efficient utilization of this by-product can reduce biodiesel production costs. We engineered Yarrowia lipolytica (Y. lipolytica) at various metabolic levels of lipid biosynthesis, degradation, and regulation for enhanced lipid and citric acid production. We used a one-step double gene knock-in and site-specific gene knock-out strategy. The resulting final strain combines the overexpression of homologous DGA1 and DGA2 in a POX-deleted background, and deletion of the SNF1 lipid regulator. This increased lipid and citric acid production in the strain under nitrogen-limiting conditions (C/N molar ratio of 60). The engineered strain constitutively accumulated lipid at a titer of more than 4.8 g/L with a lipid content of 53% of dry cell weight (DCW). The secreted citric acid reached a yield of 0.75 g/g (up to ~45 g/L) from pure glycerol in 3 days of batch fermentation using a 1-L bioreactor. This yeast cell factory was capable of simultaneous lipid accumulation and citric acid secretion. It can be used in fed-batch or continuous bioprocessing for citric acid recovery from the supernatant, along with lipid extraction from the harvested biomass.




Abghari, A., & Chen, S. (2017). Engineering yarrowia lipolytica for enhanced production of lipid and citric acid. Fermentation, 3(3).

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