Metabolic Engineering of Saccharomyces cerevisiae for Production of Fragrant Terpenoids from Agarwood and Sandalwood

Peerada Promdonkoy, Warasirin Sornlek, Thanchanok Preechakul, Sutipa Tanapongpipat, Weerawat Runguphan*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Sandalwood and agarwood essential oils are rare natural oils comprising fragrant terpenoids that have been used in perfumes and incense for millennia. Increasing demand for these terpenoids, coupled with difficulties in isolating them from natural sources, have led to an interest in finding alternative production platforms. Here, we engineered the budding yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae to produce fragrant terpenoids from sandalwood and agarwood. Specifically, we constructed strain FPPY005_39850, which overexpresses all eight genes in the mevalonate pathway. Using this engineered strain as the background strain, we screened seven distinct terpene synthases from agarwood, sandalwood, and related plant species for their activities in the context of yeast. Five terpene synthases led to the production of fragrant terpenoids, including α-santalene, α-humulene, δ-guaiene, α-guaiene, and β-eudesmol. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of β-eudesmol production in yeast. We further improved the production titers by downregulating ERG9, a key enzyme from a competing pathway, as well as employing enzyme fusions. Our final engineered strains produced fragrant terpenoids at up to 101.7 ± 6.9 mg/L. We envision our work will pave the way for a scalable route to these fragrant terpenoids and further establish S. cerevisiae as a versatile production platform for high-value chemicals.

Original languageEnglish
Article number429
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 29 Aug 2022


  • agarwood
  • fragrant terpenoids
  • metabolic engineering
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • sandalwood
  • sesquiterpenes


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