Genetically Engineered Yeast for Maximum Oleochemical Production

Physical Sciences : Materials and Compounds

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

One of the most promising areas of "green energy" research focuses on biofuels produced from living organisms. Corn, sugarcane, algae and other plant species are currently being harvested and digested by chemical means to create fuel for internal combustion engines.

The overall efficiency of using these particular plants is questionable. Corn, for instance, requires a great deal of water and dedicated land area to grow. Further, it is a staple food product, which creates an unwanted competition between fuel demand and human consumption. Sugarcane, while much more efficient a fuel source, grows only in limited localities close to the equator. This creates a challenge to efficiently provide the quantities necessary to meet motor fuel demand.

Yeast has long been thought to be an optimal source of lipid protein which can easily be grown, harvested, and refined into fuel with a comparatively low water use, small land area requirement, and simple harvesting process.

Invention Description

Researchers at The University of Texas at Austin concentrate on the production of high levels of fatty acids, lipids, and oleochemicals using a metabolically engineered fungal host. This is made possible by metabolic and genetic alteration of yeast cells, importation of mutant alleles, and addition of micronutrients. This is a green process that uses renewable materials, and it includes several novel genetic modifications.


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


  • Metabolically engineered yeasts that can produce the majority of biomass as lipids and fatty acid molecules
  • The technology includes genetic engineering targets and an approach for fermentation

Market potential/applications

Biofuels; wax and lubricants; hydrophobic molecules; fragrances and antioxidants; polymer precursors

IP Status

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