Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 103, Issue 4, pp 1545–1555 | Cite as

Biotransformation of dicarboxylic acids from vegetable oil–derived sources: current methods and suggestions for improvement

  • Heeseok Lee
  • Yohanes Eko Chandra Sugiharto
  • Hyeokwon Lee
  • Wooyoung Jeon
  • Jungoh Ahn
  • Hongweon LeeEmail author


Sustainable manufacture of dicarboxylic acids (DCAs), which are used as raw materials for multiple commercial products, has been an area of considerable research interest in recent years. Traditional chemical-based manufacture of DCAs suffers from limitations such as harsh operational conditions and generation of hazardous by-products. Microbiological methods involving DCA production depend on the capability of alkane-assimilating microorganisms, particularly α, ω-oxidation, to metabolize alkanes. Alkanes are still used as the most common substrates for this method, but the use of renewable resources, such as vegetable oil–derived fatty acid methyl esters (FAMEs), offers multiple advantages for the sustainable production of DCA. However, DCA production using FAME, unlike that using alkanes, still has low productivity and process stability, and we have attempted to identify several limiting factors that weaken the competitiveness. This review discusses the current status and suggests solutions to various obstacles to improve the biotransformation process of FAMEs.


Dicarboxylic acids Fatty acid methyl esters Renewable resources Biotransformation ω-Oxidation Fatty acid toxicity 



This research was supported by the Research Initiative Program (KGM4231713) of Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Industry Core Technology Development Project (N10047873), and Global R&D Project (N000677) of the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of Korea.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal participants performed by any of the authors.


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Biotechnology Process Engineering CenterKorean Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB)Cheongju-siRepublic of Korea
  2. 2.Department of Bioprocess Engineering, KRIBB School of BiotechnologyKorea University of Science and Technology (UST)DaejeonRepublic of Korea
  3. 3.Process Engineering DivisionPT Rekayasa IndustriJakartaIndonesia

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