Glucolipids (GLs) are glycolipid biosurfactants with promising properties, but up until today these interesting molecules could only be produced using an engineered Starmerella bombicola strain(∆ugtB1::URA3 G9) producing GLs instead of sophorolipids, albeit with a very low average productivity (0.01 g/L.h). In this study, we found that all glycolipid biosynthetic genes and enzymes were downregulated in the ∆ugtB1G9 strain in comparison to the wild type. Also a clear distortion of the entire metabolism of the ∆ugtB1G9 strain was revealed. Because the parental strain of the former was a spontaneous ∆ura3 mutant potentially containing other ‘hidden’ mutations, a new GL production strain was generated based on a rationally engineered ∆ura3 mutant (PT36). Indeed, a 50 fold GL productivity increase (0.51 g/L.h) was obtained with the new ∆ugtB1::URA3 PT36 strain compared to the G9 based strain (0.01 g/l.h) in a 10 L bioreactor experiment, yielding 118 g/L GLs instead of 8.39 g/L.
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