Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Trends in Synthetic Biology in the Bioeconomy of Non-food-Competing Biofuels

Version 1 : Received: 9 December 2021 / Approved: 10 December 2021 / Online: 10 December 2021 (12:11:21 CET)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Fantinel, A.L.; Margis, R.; Talamini, E.; Dewes, H. Trends in Synthetic Biology in the Bioeconomy of Non-Food-Competing Biofuels. SynBio 2022, 1, 33-53. Fantinel, A.L.; Margis, R.; Talamini, E.; Dewes, H. Trends in Synthetic Biology in the Bioeconomy of Non-Food-Competing Biofuels. SynBio 2022, 1, 33-53.


Despite the acknowledged relevance of renewable energy sources, biofuel production supported by food-related agriculture has faced severe criticism. One way to minimize the considered negative impacts is the use of sources of non-food biomass or wastes. Synthetic biology (SB) embraces a promising complex of technologies for biofuel production from non-edible and sustainable raw materials. Therefore, it is pertinent to identify the global evolution of investments, concepts, and techniques underlying the field in support of policy formulations for sustainable bioenergy production. We mapped the SB scientific knowledge related to biofuels using software that combines information visualization methods, bibliometrics, and data mining algorithms. The United States and China have been the leading countries in developing SB technologies. Technical University of Denmark and Tsinghua University are the institutions with higher centrality and have played prominent roles besides UC-Los Angeles and Delft University Technology. We identified six knowledge clusters under the terms: versatile sugar dehydrogenase, redox balance principle, sesquiterpene production, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, recombinant xylose-fermenting strain, and Clostridium saccharoperbutylacetonicum N1-4. The emerging trends refer to specific microorganisms, processes, and products. Yarrowia lipolytica, Oleaginous yeast, E. coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae, Phaeodactylum tricornutum, and Microalgae are the most prominent microorganisms, mainly from the year 2016 onwards. Anaerobic digestion, synthetic promoters, and genetic analysis appear as the most relevant platforms of new processes. Improved biofuels, bioethanol, and N-butanol are at the frontier of the development of SB-derived products. Synthetic biology is a dynamic interdisciplinary field in environmentally friendly bioenergy production pushed by growing social concerns and the emergent bioeconomy.


microbial production; bioethanol; biodiesel; SynB; food security; information science; scientometry.


Biology and Life Sciences, Biology and Biotechnology

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