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Advanced one-pot deconstruction and valorization of lignocellulosic biomass into triacetic acid lactone using Rhodosporidium toruloides



Rhodosporidium toruloides is capable of co-utilization of complex carbon sources and robust growth from lignocellulosic hydrolysates. This oleaginous yeast is therefore an attractive host for heterologous production of valuable bioproducts at high titers from low-cost, deconstructed biomass in an economically and environmentally sustainable manner. Here we demonstrate this by engineering R. toruloides to produce the polyketide triacetic acid lactone (TAL) directly from unfiltered hydrolysate deconstructed from biomass with minimal unit process operations.


Introduction of the 2-pyrone synthase gene into R. toruloides enabled the organism to produce 2.4 g/L TAL from simple media or 2.0 g/L from hydrolysate produced from sorghum biomass. Both of these titers are on par with titers from other better-studied microbial hosts after they had been heavily engineered. We next demonstrate that filtered hydrolysates produced from ensiled sorghum are superior to those derived from dried sorghum for TAL production, likely due to the substantial organic acids produced during ensiling. We also demonstrate that the organic acids found in ensiled biomass can be used for direct synthesis of ionic liquids within the biomass pretreatment process, enabling consolidation of unit operations of in-situ ionic liquid synthesis, pretreatment, saccharification, and fermentation into a one-pot, separations-free process. Finally, we demonstrate this consolidation in a 2 L bioreactor using unfiltered hydrolysate, producing 3.9 g/L TAL.


Many steps involved in deconstructing biomass into fermentable substrate can be combined into a distinct operation, and directly fed to cultures of engineered R. toruloides cultures for subsequent valorization into gram per liter titers of TAL in a cost-effective manner.

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