AbstractCyclopropane-functionalized hydrocarbons are excellent fuels due their high energy density. However, the organic synthesis of these molecules is challenging and harmful to the environment. In this work we produced polycyclopropanated fatty acids in bacteria. These molecules can be easily converted into renewable fuels for high energy applications such as shipping, long-haul transport, aviation, and rocketry. We explored the chemical diversity encoded in the genome of thousands of bacteria to identify and repurpose naturally occurring cyclopropanated molecules. We identified a set of candidate iterative polyketide synthases (iPKSs) predicted to produce polycyclopropanated fatty acids (POP-FAs), expressed these PKSs in Streptomyces coelicolor and produced the POP-FAs. We determined the structure of the molecules and increased their production 22-fold. Polycyclopropanated fatty acid methyl esters (POP-FAMEs) were obtained by methyl esterifying the POP-FAs. Finally, we calculated that our POP fuel candidates can have energy densities of more than 50 MJ/L. Our research shows that POP-FAMEs and other polyketide derived POPs have the energetic properties for energy-demanding applications for which sustainable alternatives are scarce.
Published: September 21, 2022