Biotechnological production of itaconic acid - Production of itaconic acid in a controllable fungi expression system

Ref.-Nr. 3419

Keywords: Itaconic acid, biosynthesis, biotechnology, platform compound, Ustilago maydis, White Biotech, chemistry, Fermentation, production process

It is an important monomer for the synthesis of, e.g. poly-acrylates, rubber, colours, additives, adhesives, emulsifying agents, lipids, pharmaceuticals, herbicides and biodegradable polymers for the packaging industry. Currently, Itaconic acid is commercially produced by microbial fermentation using filamentous fungi of the genus Aspergillus, such as A. terreus. This itaconic acid producer is well characterized, but has several disadvantages. Filamentous fungi are particularly problematic as their morphology is difficult to be controlled in fermentation systems, thus the synthesis process and the quality of production is varying. The offered innovative production process of itaconic acid uses genes encoding for the biosynthesis pathway of unicellular fungi from the family of Ustilaginaceae, in particular Ustilago maydis. By modification of these genes the efficiency of itaconic acid production can be markedly improved and enables a more reliable process with less risk of batch failure. As another advantage over A. terreus, which is also classified as a toxin-producing animal pathogenic fungus in certain countries which is limiting its applicability at industrial scale, the species Ustilago maydis has a history of safe use. In addition, Ustilago maydis can be easily genetically engineered and grown in liquid culture up to high cell densities and good to handle temperatures of up to 34°C.


  • Effective biotechnological production process of a basic chemical platform component
  • Easy to handle biosynthesis with unicellular fungi
  • Overexpression of Itaconic acid in recombinant host cells
  • Novel itaconate production genes and pathway allows freedom to operate
  • Expression cassette and vectors encoding itaconic acid synthesis pathway are available

Kommerzielle Anwendung

On behalf of the RWTH Aachen University, PROvendis offers access to rights for commercial use as well as the opportunity for further co-development.

Aktueller Stand

In case of interest we are pleased to inform you about the current patent status.

Relevante Veröffentlichungen

E. Geiser et al. (2014); “Prospecting the biodiversity of the fungal family Ustilaginaceae for the production of value-added chemicals.” Fungal Biology and Biotechnology, 1:2

M. Bölker et al. (2015) WO 2015/140314 A1; “Means and methods for itaconic acid production.”

Eine Erfindung der RWTH Aachen.

Dr. Andreas Wagener
+49 208 9410538