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Producing Dicarboxylic Acids Using Polyketide Synthases



  • Producing a wide variety dicarboxylic acids for the manufacture of commercial polymers, e.g. polyesters, polyamides, polyurethanes


  • Starting material is renewable, cellulosic or other biomass instead of petroleum
  • Polyketide synthases can be modified to produce a wide-variety of diacid polymer precursors
  • Compatible with a variety of host organisms and feedstocks, enabling yield/tolerance optimization
  • Process does not release NO2, which damages the ozone layer


Jay Keasling and Leonard Katz of the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) have invented polyketide synthases (PKSs) that can be introduced into a host organism for the production of a variety of dicarboxylic acids often used as polymer intermediates. The invention promises to enable the manufacture of a wide range of polymers from sugars derived from renewable, cellulosic or other biomass instead of from petroleum intermediates.

While PKSs have been widely used to produce pharmaceuticals and agricultural products, Keasling and Katz are the first to use this specific PKS system to produce a range of dicarboxylic acids.  Because of the chemical and biological flexibility of the enzymes they are using, a large number of very diverse diacids can be produced. The technology is compatible with multiple feedstocks and hosts, enabling the optimization of yields for a particular diacid.

LBNL is seeking collaborative research partners interested in funding development of this technology over a three year period. 


  • Published PCT Patent Application WO2009/121066 available at Available for licensing and collaborative research. 

To learn more about licensing a technology from LBNL see



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