Sustainable production of industrial chemicals using microbial biocatalysts: 1,4-Butanediol

Abstract 141

Stephen Van Dien,
Genomatica, Inc., San Diego, CA, United States

Oil and natural gas are used as the primary raw materials for manufacturing an astonishing array of large volume chemicals, polymers, and other products that improve our overall standard of living.

Growing concerns over the environment and volatile fossil energy costs have inspired a quest to develop more sustainable processes that afford these same products from renewable feedstocks with lower cost, energy consumption, and greenhouse gas emissions.

Metabolic engineering of microorganisms is a powerful approach to address this need.

A recent success story in sustainable chemical process development is Genomatica's production of the industrial chemical 1,4-butanediol (BDO) using engineered strains of Escherichia coli.

BDO is a chemical intermediate that goes into a range of products including automotive, electronics and apparels (such as spandex), and is currently only commercially made through energy intensive petrochemical processes from hydrocarbon feedstocks. Nearly three billion pounds per year of this chemical are produced worldwide. Therefore, this product represents an opportunity to make a significant impact on the replacement of traditional petrochemical processes with bioprocesses using renewable feedstocks.

Genomatica has established an integrated suite of computational and laboratory technologies to design, create, and optimize novel organisms and bioprocesses.

This presentation will cover the application of this integrated technology platform to design, construct, and optimize a high-performing microorganism capable of producing BDO from carbohydrate feedstocks.

Genomatica's modeling technology facilitates the design of both host metabolism and the heterologous biopathway. After constructing the organism based on the design, our models facilitated the analysis of fermentation and 'omics' data to evaluate performance, thus finding targets for further rounds of strain engineering.

The presentation will show how significant progress was made in BDO titer, production rate, and yield through model-guided strain improvement, ultimately resulting in an economically attractive process that was validated at the pilot and demonstration scale.