Longifolene is a naturally occurring tricyclic sesquiterpene widely used in many different fields. Up to now, this valuable terpene was mainly manufactured from the high-boiling fraction of certain pine resins. Microbial production can be a promising alternative to the extraction from natural plant sources. Here, we present the metabolic engineering strategy to assemble biosynthetic pathway for longifolene production in Escherichia coli. E. coli was rendered to produce longifolene by heterologously expressing a codon optimized longifolene synthase from Picea abies. Augmentation of the metabolic flux to farnesyl pyrophosphate (FPP) by different FPP synthases conferred a 1.8-fold increase in longifolene production. An additional enhancement of longifolene production (up to 2.64 mg/L) was achieved by introducing an exogenous mevalonate pathway. Under fed-batch conditions, the best-performing strain was able to produce 382 mg/L of longifolene in a 5 L bioreactor. These results demonstrated the feasibility of producing longifolene by microbial fermentation and could serve as the basis for the construction of more robust strains in the future.
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