Metabolic Engineering of Yarrowia lipolytica for High-Level Lipid and Oleochemical Production

Physical Sciences : Chemical

Available for licensing


  • Hal Alper, Ph.D. , Chemical Engineering
  • John Blazeck, Ph.D. , University of Texas at Austin
  • Leqian Liu , University of Texas at Austin
  • Andrew Hill , University of Texas at Austin

Background/unmet need

Production of fuels from biological carbon sources is an expanding industry driven by rising global fuel demand and declining fossil fuel reserves. From 2000 to 2008, global bio-fuel production more than tripled, although it accounted for less than 3% of worldwide transportation fuel supplies. U.S. market value in 2008 was $37 billion.

New-generation feedstocks for bio-fuels are organisms genetically engineered to produce lipids that allow for easier harvesting of the energy-generating material and more cost-effective fuel production. Yarrowia lipolytica is a new-generation material.

Invention Description

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin have developed a high-strength promoter for with an expression level nearly seven-fold higher than that of the strong, constitutive TEF (translation elongation factor) promoter.

The invention includes several novel genetic modifications used to improve lipid overproduction phenotypes and micronutrient additions that improve production.
This process can create a renewable, clean method for the production of oleochemicals and fuels.


  • Renewable processing for fuels and chemicals
  • Customizable product profiles
  • High yields


  • Metabolically engineered yeasts
  • Several novel genetic modifications
  • High-level production of lipids, fuels, and oleochemicals through a fermentation-based process

Market potential/applications

Chemical industry, fuel and biofuel industries, petroleum industry, wax and lubricants industries

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype

IP Status

  • 2 foreign patents application filed
  • 1 U.S. patent application filed
  • 1 U.S. patent issued: 9,896,691