Monoterpene olefins such as limonene are plant compounds with applications as flavouring and fragrance agents, as solvents and potentially also in polymer and fuel chemistry. We engineered baker's yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to express a (-)-limonene synthase from Perilla frutescens and a (+)-limonene synthase from Citrus limon. Both proteins were expressed either with their native plastid targeting signal or in a truncated form in which the plastidial sorting signal was removed. The yeast host strain for expression was AE9 K197G, which expresses a mutant Erg20 enzyme. This enzyme catalyses the formation of geranyl diphosphate, which is the precursor for monoterpenes. Several methods were tested to capture limonene produced by the yeast. Extraction from the culture medium by pentane, or by the addition of CaCl2 followed by solid-phase micro-extraction, did not lead to detectable limonene, indicating that limonene is rapidly lost from the culture medium. Volatile terpenes such as limonene may also be trapped in a dodecane phase added to the medium during fermentation. This method resulted in recovery of 0.028¿mg/l (+)-limonene and 0.060¿mg/l (-)-limonene in strains using the truncated Citrus and Perilla synthases, respectively. Trapping the headspace during culture of the limonene synthase-expressing strains resulted in higher titres, at 0.12¿mg/l (+)-limonene and 0.49¿mg/l (-)-limonene. These results show that the volatile properties of the olefins produced require specific methods for efficient recovery of these molecules from biotechnological production systems. Gene Bank Nos were: KM015220 (Perilla limonene synthase; this study); AF317695 (Perilla limonene synthase; Yuba et al., 1996); AF514287.1 (Citrus limonene synthase; Lucker et al., 2002).
- monoterpene biosynthesis