Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 104, Issue 3, pp 935–951 | Cite as

Metabolic engineering for the production of fat-soluble vitamins: advances and perspectives

  • Panhong Yuan
  • Shixiu Cui
  • Yanfeng Liu
  • Jianghua Li
  • Guocheng DuEmail author
  • Long LiuEmail author


Fat-soluble vitamins are vitamins that are insoluble in water, soluble in fat, and organic solvents; they are found in minute amount in various foods. Fat-soluble vitamins, including vitamins A, D, E, and K, have been widely used in food, cosmetics, health care products, and pharmaceutical industries. Fat-soluble vitamins are currently produced via biological and chemical synthesis. In recent years, fat-soluble vitamin production by biotechnological routes has been regarded as a very promising approach. Based on biosynthetic pathways, considerable advances of α-tocopherol and β-carotenes have been achieved in transgenic plants and microalgae. Microbial fermentation, as an alternative method for the production of vitamin K and β-carotenes, is attracting considerable attention because it is an environment friendly process. In this review, we address the function and applications of fat-soluble vitamins, and an overview of current developments in the production of fat-soluble vitamins in transgenic plants, microalgae, and microorganisms. We focus on the metabolic and process engineering strategies for improving production of fat-soluble vitamins, and we hope this review can be useful for the people who are interested in the production of fat-soluble vitamins by biotechnological routes.


Fat-soluble vitamins Transgenic plant production Microalgae biosynthetic product Microbial production Systems metabolic engineering 


Funding information

This work was financially supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (31871784, 31870069, 21676119, and 31671845), Postgraduate Research & Practice Innovation Program of Jiangsu Provence (KYCX18_1786), and The Fundamental Research Funds for the Central Universities (JUSRP51713B).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

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


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Copyright information

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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Carbohydrate Chemistry and Biotechnology, Ministry of EducationJiangnan UniversityWuxiChina
  2. 2.Key Laboratory of Industrial Biotechnology, Ministry of EducationJiangnan UniversityWuxiChina

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