Campus Units

Chemical and Biological Engineering, Ames Laboratory, NSF Engineering Research Center for Biorenewable Chemicals, Microbiology

Document Type


Research Focus Area

Advanced and Nanostructured Materials

Publication Version

Accepted Manuscript

Publication Date


Journal or Book Title

Metabolic Engineering




The aromatic amino acid biosynthesis pathway, together with its downstream branches, represents one of the most commercially valuable biosynthetic pathways, producing a diverse range of complex molecules with many useful bioactive properties. Aromatic compounds are crucial components for major commercial segments, from polymers to foods, nutraceuticals, and pharmaceuticals, and the demand for such products has been projected to continue to increase at national and global levels. Compared to direct plant extraction and chemical synthesis, microbial production holds promise not only for much shorter cultivation periods and robustly higher yields, but also for enabling further derivatization to improve compound efficacy by tailoring new enzymatic steps. This review summarizes the biosynthetic pathways for a large repertoire of commercially valuable products that are derived from the aromatic amino acid biosynthesis pathway, and it highlights both generic strategies and specific solutions to overcome certain unique problems to enhance the productivities of microbial hosts.


This is a manuscript of an article published as Cao, Mingfeng, Meirong Gao, Miguel Suastegui, Yanzhen Mei, and Zengyi Shao. "Building microbial factories for the production of aromatic amino acid pathway derivatives: From commodity chemicals to plant-sourced natural products." Metabolic Engineering (2019). DOI: 10.1016/j.ymben.2019.08.008.

Copyright Owner

International Metabolic Engineering Society



File Format


Published Version