hydrocarbon biosynthesis

The enzymatic production of hydrocarbons (alkanes and alkenes) from fatty acid metabolites provides one strategy for the efficient production of fungible "drop-in" fuels.  One enzyme under investigation in the lab (termed OleT) metabolizes fatty acids to alkenes and carbon dioxide, a reaction which is highly atypical for the enzyme class.  We are studying the detailed molecular mechanism of OleT and related enzymes, optimizing its activity, and assembling a pathway for the efficient production of fuels in vivo.