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Scaling Up Synthetic Production of Natural Ingredients

NSF Award:

CAREER: Biosynthesis of polyunsaturated fatty acids in marine bacteria  (University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus)

Congressional Districts:
Research Areas:

While studying marine bacteria, researchers at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) discovered a fundamentally new pathway to construct vital fatty acids. The UPR team--led by Abel Baerga-Ortiz--identified a system that they believe requires no protein catalyst.

This work is important because typically, organisms use an expensive protein catalyst--the essential vitamin coenzyme A--to build fatty acids. If the team can extend its discovery to other organisms, the work could greatly facilitate the manufacture and scale-up of natural products by circumventing the need for this key enzyme.

The Baerga-Ortiz team is studying the marine bacteria system to try and understand how the biosynthetic protein kick starts fatty acid production without relying on coenzyme A.

Natural products have great value as pharmaceuticals. Synthetic chemistry enables timely and cheaper manufacture of these products because supplies are not limited to naturally occurring sources and time-consuming, expensive extraction steps.


  • Residues involved in construction of vital fatty acids
Residues involved in new pathway to construct vital fatty acids.
Uldaeliz Trujillo and Abel Baerga-Ortiz

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