2015, DOI: 10.1111/pbi.12343
Photosynthetic terpene hydrocarbon production for fuels and chemicals
Xin Wang, Donald R. Ort, and Joshua S. Yuan
Photosynthetic hydrocarbon production bypasses the traditional biomass hydrolysis process and represents the most direct conversion of sunlight energy into the next-generation biofuels. As a major class of biologically derived hydrocarbons with diverse structures, terpenes are also valuable in producing a variety of fungible bioproducts in addition to the advanced 'drop-in' biofuels. However, it is highly challenging to achieve the efficient redirection of photosynthetic carbon and reductant into terpene biosynthesis. In this review, we discuss four major scientific and technical barriers for photosynthetic terpene production and recent advances to address these constraints. Collectively, photosynthetic terpene production needs to be optimized in a systematic fashion, in which the photosynthesis improvement, the optimization of terpene biosynthesis pathway, the improvement of key enzymes and the enhancement of sink effect through terpene storage or secretion are all important. New advances in synthetic biology also offer a suite of potential tools to design and engineer photosynthetic terpene platforms. The systemic integration of these solutions may lead to 'disruptive' technologies to enable biofuels and bioproducts with high efficiency, yield and infrastructure compatibility.