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Diversity and Taxonomy of Aliphatic Hydrocarbon Producers

  • Serina L. Robinson
  • Lawrence P. Wackett
Living reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology book series (HHLM)

Abstract

Microbially sourced alkanes and alkenes derived from fatty acids are important in nature and in society with potential as bio-based fuels and other industrial, medical, and consumer products. While the production of hydrocarbons by bacteria was first reported in the literature over half a century ago, most biosynthetic gene clusters and biochemical pathways have only been uncovered within the past decade. A deepened understanding of the genes and enzymes for fatty acid-derived hydrocarbon production has spurred genome mining efforts to determine the diversity of hydrocarbon-producing bacteria. In this chapter, we focus on prokaryotic pathways for the biosynthesis of medium- and long-chain alkanes and alkenes that have fatty acid precursors. Emphasis is placed on the taxonomy of hydrocarbon-producing organisms and the physiological and ecological role of these compounds. Hydrocarbons produced by bacteria have diverse cellular functions, including modulating membrane fluidity in response to environmental stressors. In microbial communities, hydrocarbons drive interspecies interactions and global biogeochemical cycles. Future research needs include harnessing biochemical knowledge to engineer known pathways and using genomics to better inform the discovery of novel hydrocarbon-based natural products.

Notes

Acknowledgments

We acknowledge Diego Escalante and Kelly Aukema for thoughtful comments on the manuscript. S.L.R. is supported by a NSF Graduate Research Fellowship (Grant no. 00039202).

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© Springer International Publishing AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and ImmunologyUniversity of Minnesota, Twin CitiesSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.BioTechnology InstituteUniversity of Minnesota, Twin CitiesSt. PaulUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biochemistry, Molecular Biology and BiophysicsUniversity of Minnesota, Twin CitiesSt. PaulUSA

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