Production of Glycolipid PEFAs from Yeasts

Tech ID: 27097 / UC Case 2016-654-0


Method of using basidiomycetous yeasts to convert carbohydrates to glycolipid biosurfactants

Full Description

Glycolipids such as sophorolipids, mannosyl erythritol lipids, cellobiose lipids and polyol esters of fatty acids (PEFAs) are environmentally friendly and renewable biosurfactants produced by yeast and used in detergents and other consumer and industrial products. PEFAs are the least understood group of yeast derived biosurfactants and consist of amphiphilic molecules comprising a sugar alcohol, such as but not limited to, D-mannitol and D-arabitol esterified to a (R)-3-hydroxy fatty acid through the carboxyl end, with varying number of acetylations. Although little research on the topic exists, there is no previous research that suggests there is a method suitable for commercialization.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis have discovered a novel yeast species that is capable of synthesizing and secreting PEFAs when grown on sugar alone, rather than the typical method for biosurfactants production based on feeding a combination of sugar and oil. This allows for a solvent free, more economic harvesting and purification of the final product. This invention overcomes the three major obstacles of current production methods: the expense of harvesting the cells from the media, lysing the cells, and extracting the oil using organic solvents. In using the yeast strains grown under a nutrient limited media, PEFAs were optimized to a concentration of 33g/L - a much higher concentration than the 2g/L that has been achieved using other strains. This higher concentration yield can be used to achieve more efficient and cheaper products of PEFAs for industrial uses.


  • Surfactants acting as a detergent, emulsifier or dispersant


  • Secretion of extracellular glycolipids allows recovery without lysing cells
  • Harvesting the glycolipids does not require the use of organic solvents
  • Cheaper and more environmentally friendly
  • Greater production yields
  • Synthesis without a hydrophobic substrate

Patent Status

Country Type Number Dated Case
United States Of America Issued Patent 10,196,663 02/05/2019 2014-225
Patent Cooperation Treaty Published Application 2017184884 10/26/2017 2016-654

Additional Patent Pending


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Other Information


biosurfactants, sophorolipids, yeast, oils, glycolipids, polyol esters of fatty acids, cleaner, detergent, dispersant, wetting agent, emulsifier, emollient, humectant, instantizer, lubricant, release agent, biocontro

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