The cost-effective production of biofuels from renewable materials will begin to address energy security and climate change concerns. Ethanol, naturally produced by microorganisms, is currently the major biofuel in the transportation sector. However, its low energy content and incompatibility with existing fuel distribution and storage infrastructure limits its economic use in the future. Advanced biofuels, such as long chain alcohols and isoprenoid- and fatty acid-based biofuels, have physical properties that more closely resemble petroleum-derived fuels, and as such are an attractive alternative for the future supplementation or replacement of petroleum-derived fuels. Here, we review recent developments in the engineering of metabolic pathways for the production of known and potential advanced biofuels by microorganisms. We concentrate on the metabolic engineering of genetically tractable organisms such as Escherichia coli and Saccharomyces cerevisiae for the production of these advanced biofuels.
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