DICARBOXYLIC ACIDS ARE IMPORTANT INTERMEDIATES FOR THE MANUFACTURE OF POLYESTERS AND PLASTICISERS. A NUMBER OF REPORTS, MAINLY FROM JAPAN, HAVE INDICATED THAT SUCH MATERIALS CAN BE PRODUCED BIOTECHNOLOGICALLY USING N-ALCANES AS STARTING MATERIAL. IN TERMS OF ECONOMICS AND RENEWABLE RESOURCES, FATTY ACIDS OR GLYCEROL ESTERS CONTAINING THEM REPRESENT VERY INTERESTING CANDIDATES FOR ACHIEVING FORMATION OF DICARBOXYLIC ACIDS. IF THE FATTY ACIDS USED CONTAIN A FUNCTIONAL GROUP IN THE ALKYL CHAIN ONE WOULD ARRIVE AT DICARBOXYLIC ACIDS THAT HAVE NOVEL AND COMMERCIALLY USEFUL PROPERTIES. SUCH TECHNOLOGY WOULD HAVE A HIGH RELEVANCE TO THE OLEOCHEMICAL INDUSTRY IN EUROPE AND COULD, IF SUCCESSFUL, PLACE EUROPE AS A WORLD LEADER IN THIS PROCESS.
Dicarboxylic (DC) acids have an important market segment in the field of polyester and plasticiser syntheses. Such materials are expensive and an alternative route to their production is highly desirable. The research has been aimed at developing the basic knowledge which could be applied to a potential commercial biotechnological procedure leading to the production of DC acids from triacylglycerols, or fatty acids derived therefrom. No process for this exists in Europe, though there is a small (100 ton/yr) plant operating in Japan that uses alkanes as feedstock.
Corynebacterium 7E1C and Acinetobacter H01-N were studied. The former contained at least 3 different alcohol dehydrogenases and the latter, 2.3 aldehyde dehydrogenases were isolated from the Acinetobacter, each showing very distinct properties. The former organism could accumulate DC acids from dodecane due to its inability to oxidize them once they had been formed. Prospects for improving yields of DC acid by random mutagenesis of either bacterium appear very dim. Novel enzymes were identified and considerable insight is now available concerning the mechanisms of alkane and fatty acid oxidation yeasts.
The presence of an inducible fatty alcohol oxidase in yeasts grown on alkanes was established. The enzyme was characterized: it is membrane bound, can be solubilized, is photolabile, oxidises primary long chain alcohols including omega-hydroxy fatty acids without the need for an exogenous cofactor.
THE PROJECT AIM AT DEVELOPING A COMMERCIAL PROCEDURE FOR THE BIOTECHNOLOGICAL PRODUCTION OF DICARBOXYLIC ACIDS FROM FATTY ACIDS OR GLYCEROL ESTERS CONTAINING THEM. PROCARYOTES OF THE GENUS PSEUDOMONAS AND CORYNEBACTERIA WILL BE MAINLY USED, THOUGH YEASTS (ESPECIALLY CANDIDA) MAY ALSO PROVE TO BE USEFUL. THE PROJECT WILL BE DIVIDED IN TWO SUB-PROJECTS. ONE DEALING WITH THE ENZYMOLOGY OF THE CONVERSION OF ALKANES AND FATTY ACIDS TO DICARBOXYLIC ACIDS, INCLUDING PURIFICATION OF THE ENZYMES INVOLVED. THIS PART WILL BE CARRIED OUT ENTIRELY IN HULL (UK). THE OTHER SUB-PROJECT WILL DEAL WITH THE SCREENING FOR SUITABLE MICRO-ORGANISMS FOR DICARBOXYLIC ACID FORMATION AND WILL BE DONE ENTIRELY IN DUESSELDORF (D).
Funding SchemeCSC - Cost-sharing contracts