Synthetic methylotrophy is the development of non-native methylotrophs that can utilize methane and methanol as sole carbon and energy sources or as co-substrates with carbohydrates to produce metabolites as biofuels and chemicals. The availability of methane (from natural gas) and its oxidation product, methanol, has been increasing, while prices have been decreasing, thus rendering them as attractive fermentation substrates. As they are more reduced than most carbohydrates, methane and methanol, as co-substrates, can enhance the yields of biologically produced metabolites. Here we discuss synthetic biology and metabolic engineering strategies based on the native biology of aerobic methylotrophs for developing synthetic strains grown on methanol, with Escherichia coli as the prototype.
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