Microbial production of terpenes

Lígia Pimentel*, Erdem Carsanba*, Francisca Teixeira, Susana Vidigal, Manuela Pintado, Carla Oliveira, Luis M. Rodríguez-Alcalá

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Sustainability is one of the main challenges facing humankind in the twenty-first century due to the continuous increase in the demand for energy and resources that characterizes our current industrial activity, driven in part by exponential population growth. This problem can be tackled from different strategies and among them the search for biomolecules, either recovered through processes based on the circular economy or through synthetic biology, are highly promising. In this sense, terpenes, the largest family of secondary metabolites in the plant kingdom, have attracted much of the research in recent decades in pursuit of alternative, more ecological, and sustainable ways for their obtention. The reasons for this interest are due to their extensive structural diversity and the possibility of gaining new functionalities, simply by chemical modification, which also makes them excellent candidates in areas such as biomaterials and pharmaceuticals. But also, the fact that the natural biosynthetic pathways of terpenes are well known from the point of view of metabolites and enzymes facilitates their industrial production using genetically modified microorganisms.

This chapter aims to give the reader a broad but at the same time comprehensive view of the production of microbial terpenes in a sustainability context. Starting by the circumstances that lead to the need to look for renewable sources of biomolecules and following by why terpenes represent a very promising opportunity even if only their characteristics from a chemical and bioactivity point of view were considered. Finally, it will be discussed which microorganisms can produce these unique lipids and how, the main option followed nowadays is using synthetic biology strategies, involving modified organisms that are already being used on an industrial scale for applications ranging from biofuels to pharmaceuticals.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationMicrobial production of food bioactive compounds
EditorsSeid Mahdi Jafari, Farshad Darvishi Harzevili
Place of PublicationCham
PublisherSpringer International Publishing
Number of pages38
ISBN (Print)9783030814038
Publication statusPublished - 8 Dec 2022


  • Sustainability
  • Terpenes
  • Synthetic biology
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Farnesene
  • Squalene
  • Artemisinin


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