Microbial engineering for the production of advanced biofuels

Nature. 2012 Aug 16;488(7411):320-8. doi: 10.1038/nature11478.


Advanced biofuels produced by microorganisms have similar properties to petroleum-based fuels, and can 'drop in' to the existing transportation infrastructure. However, producing these biofuels in yields high enough to be useful requires the engineering of the microorganism's metabolism. Such engineering is not based on just one specific feedstock or host organism. Data-driven and synthetic-biology approaches can be used to optimize both the host and pathways to maximize fuel production. Despite some success, challenges still need to be met to move advanced biofuels towards commercialization, and to compete with more conventional fuels.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alcohols / chemistry
  • Alcohols / metabolism
  • Biofuels / economics
  • Biofuels / supply & distribution*
  • Biomass
  • Fatty Acids / chemistry
  • Fatty Acids / metabolism
  • Genetic Engineering*
  • Microbiology*
  • Petroleum / metabolism
  • Petroleum / statistics & numerical data
  • Polyketide Synthases / genetics
  • Polyketide Synthases / metabolism
  • Synthetic Biology
  • Terpenes / chemistry
  • Terpenes / metabolism
  • Transportation


  • Alcohols
  • Biofuels
  • Fatty Acids
  • Petroleum
  • Terpenes
  • Polyketide Synthases