Marinobacter as a Model Organism for Wax Ester Accumulation in Bacteria

  • Carolann M. Knutson
  • Eric M. Lenneman
  • Brett M. BarneyEmail author
Reference work entry
Part of the Handbook of Hydrocarbon and Lipid Microbiology book series (HHLM)


Wax esters are derived from the esterification of a long-chain fatty alcohol with a fatty acid. Wax esters are a diverse type of neutral lipid that is utilized by all domains of life to serve a wide variety of functions. The model bacterium Marinobacter aquaeolei VT8 has become an ideal model organism for studying wax ester biosynthesis, as it naturally accumulates wax esters in addition to having many other desirable features. While the pathway of wax ester biosynthesis has been mostly elucidated, there are still potential gaps in our understanding of how the two independent pathways of fatty acid biosynthesis and wax ester biosynthesis are linked. M. aquaeolei VT8 has also become a primary source of a number of key enzymes from the wax ester biosynthesis pathway that are either studied in the laboratory for purposes of characterization or have been transferred to other model species for use in developing alternative biosynthetic routes to novel products. Studies of global transcriptional regulation during wax ester biosynthesis are also providing us with a view of how organisms that evolved to accumulate wax esters naturally could be used as a template to inform decisions as we attempt to move these pathways into foreign hosts. Understanding the in vivo flow of substrates through the wax ester biosynthesis from de novo fatty acid biosynthesis to the final wax ester product is a key requirement to improving biosynthetic approaches for producing wax esters.



This work was supported by grants from the National Science Foundation to B.M.B. (Award Numbers 0968781 and CBET-1437758). Further support was provided through generous start-up funds through the University of Minnesota.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carolann M. Knutson
    • 1
  • Eric M. Lenneman
    • 1
  • Brett M. Barney
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems EngineeringUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA

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