Green building blocks: high-level itaconic acid production by engineered fungi

Physical Sciences : Materials and Compounds

Available for licensing


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

Background/unmet need

Itaconic acid was listed by the U.S. Department of Energy?s biomass program as one of the Top 12 Top Value-Added Chemicals. It is a fully sustainable industrial building block, primarily used as a co-monomer, with applications in the paper and architectural coating industries.

Invention Description

Researchers at UT Austin have utilized the metabolic and genetic engineering of the yeast Yarrowia lipolytica for high-level production of itaconic acid through a fermentation-based process.


  • Renewable processing for chemicals
  • Green approach for the production of itaconic acid, acrylics, and other materials
  • High yields and flexible platform


    Metabolically engineered yeasts that can produce itaconic acid with a higher yield than the current state of the art

Market potential/applications

Synthetic latex
Superabsorbent polymers
Chelant dispersal agents
Builders in phosphate-free detergents
Unsaturated polyester resins
Methyl methacrylate

Development Stage

Lab/bench prototype

IP Status

  • 1 U.S. patent application filed