Engineering Yarrowia lipolytica for production of medium-chain fatty acids

Charles D. Rutter, Shuyan Zhang, Christopher V. Rao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Lipids are naturally derived products that offer an attractive, renewable alternative to petroleum-based hydrocarbons. While naturally produced long-chain fatty acids can replace some petroleum analogs, medium-chain fatty acid would more closely match the desired physical and chemical properties of currently employed petroleum products. In this study, we engineered Yarrowia lipolytica, an oleaginous yeast that naturally produces lipids at high titers, to produce medium-chain fatty acids. Five different acyl-acyl carrier protein (ACP) thioesterases with specificity for medium-chain acyl-ACP molecules were expressed in Y. lipolytica, resulting in formation of either decanoic or octanoic acid. These novel fatty acid products were found to comprise up to 40 % of the total cell lipids. Furthermore, the reduction in chain length resulted in a twofold increase in specific lipid productivity in these engineered strains. The medium-chain fatty acids were found to be incorporated into all lipid classes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7359-7368
Number of pages10
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number17
StatePublished - Sep 18 2015


  • Acyl-ACP thioesterase
  • Medium-chain fatty acids
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Oleaginous yeast

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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