Styrene biosynthesis from glucose by engineered E. coli

Rebekah McKenna, David Nielsen

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

1 Scopus citations


Styrene is a large volume, commodity petrochemical with diverse commercial applications, including as a monomer building-block for the synthesis of many use ful polymers. Here we demonstrate how, through the de novo design and development of a novel metabolic pathway, styrene can alternatively be synthesized from renewable substrates such as glucose. The conversion of endogenously synthesized L-phenylalanine to styrene was achieved by the co-expression of phenylalanine ammonia lyase and trans-cinnamate decarboxylase. Candidate isoenzymes for each step were screened from bacterial, yeast,and plant genetic sources. Finally, over-expression of PAL2 from Arabidopsis thaliana and FDC1 from Saccharomyces cerevisiae (originally classified as ferulate decarboxylase) in an L-phenylalanine over-producing Escherichia coli host led to the accumulationof up to 260 mg/L in shake flask cultures. Achievable titers already approach the styrene toxicity threshold (determinedas ∼300 mg/L).To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of microbial styrene production from sustainable feedstocks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication11AIChE - 2011 AIChE Annual Meeting, Conference Proceedings
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011
Event2011 AIChE Annual Meeting, 11AIChE - Minneapolis, MN, United States
Duration: Oct 16 2011Oct 21 2011

Publication series

NameAIChE Annual Meeting, Conference Proceedings


Other2011 AIChE Annual Meeting, 11AIChE
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityMinneapolis, MN


  • Aromatic
  • Cinnamic acid
  • E. coli
  • L-Phenylalanine
  • Phenylalanine ammonia lyase
  • Styrene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Chemical Engineering(all)
  • Chemistry(all)


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