ChBE Seminar Series: Yarrowia lipolytica, a Versatile Microbial Workhorse for Expanding Nature’s...

Wednesday, September 11, 2019
9:00 a.m.-10:30 a.m.
2108 Chem/Nuc Building, UMD College Park
Taylor Woehl

Speaker: Peng XuAssistant Professor of Chemical, Biochemical & Environmental Engineering, UMBC

Title: Yarrowia lipolytica: A Versatile Microbial Workhorse for Expanding Nature’s Biosynthetic Capacity


Yarrowia lipolytica is an oleaginous yeast that has been substantially engineered for production of oleochemcials and drop-in transportation fuels. It has been considered as a ‘generally recognized as safe’ (GRAS) organism for the production of organic acids in the food and nutraceutical industry. The high precursor acetyl-CoA and malonyl-CoA flux along with the versatile carbon-utilization capability makes this yeast as a superior host to upgrade low-value carbons into high-value pharmaceuticals and plant natural products (PNPs). Bacteria system in general is less efficient to express the complex gene cluster of plant natural product pathway. Unlike bacteria, yeast has developed spatially separated organelles to partition specialized metabolic functions into distinct cellular compartments. In this talk, I will present strategies to build genetic toolkits to streamline the genetic/genome modification for Y. lipolytica.  I will also present strategies to harness the endogenous acetyl-CoA/malonyl-CoA/HMG-CoA metabolism toward engineering efficient yeast cell factories to produce complex oleochemicals, terpenes, polyketides and aromatic commodity chemicals. We identified pathway limitations and assessed genetic engineering strategies to elevate the level of acetyl-CoA, malonyl-CoA, HMG-CoA and NADPH. This work will provide a testbed for engineering Y. lipolytica and expanding nature’s biosynthetic capacity to produce complex fuels and chemicals from renewable feedstocks.


Peng Xu is an assistant professor in the department of Chemical, Biochemical and Environmental Engineering at the University of Maryland Baltimore County. Prior to that, he is a postdoctoral associate at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). He received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) in 2013 and his BS/MS degree in Biochemical engineering from Jiangnan University in 2006. He led the “Synthetic biology and intelligent control lab” at UMBC since 2016. His research area covers metabolic engineering, synthetic biology, biological intelligent control and mathematical modeling et al.

Audience: Campus 

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