Sequence and Cloning of Methyl Butenol Synthase




There is a growing economic and environmental need for the development of alternative fuel sources due to concerns of sustainability. An ideal biofuel would be highly renewable, efficient as a fuel, inexpensive, and easy to produce in high volume. A problem with many biofuels, including ethanol, is that they can only be produced in certain locations and with volume-production constraints. Methyl butenol, though, has the potential to be manufactured in very large quantities, made almost anywhere, and will be relatively inexpensive if it can be produced in a photosynthetic organism. Due to its chemical structure, methyl butenol can be a gasoline alternative or a feedstock for chemical synthesis.


Description of Technology


Michigan State University’s technology relates to the identification and cloning of the first genes encoding methyl butenol synthase and its use in methyl butenol production through fermentation. The methyl butenol synthase gene was isolated from several species of pine. Even though it was known that pine trees naturally produce and release methyl butenol in the environment, the gene useful for the enzymatic production of methyl butenol was not known until now. Thus, this technology provides a practical method for producing methyl butenol using methyl butenol synthase proteins and genes.


Key Benefits

  • High yield alternative: Methyl butenol is a new biofuel that can be easily produced at high yield through microbial fermentation.
  • High-volume and geographically flexible production capacity: Microbial fermentation can be scaled to provide large capacity and allow for production almost anywhere local biofuel is being produced.
  • Lack of self-polymerization: Methyl butenol doesn’t suffer from the self-polymerization problem that is found in other fuel alternatives.
  • Low production costs: Compared to bioethanol, methyl butenol production can be very inexpensive, especially if produced in a photosynthetic organism that does not require a carbon-source feedstock.



This invention as applications as:

  • New biofuel to replace gasoline: Fermentative organisms carrying a methyl butenol synthase gene can produce methyl butenol as an alternative to fossil fuels such as diesel and gasoline.
  • New biofuel additive: Methyl butenol can replace ethanol or the previously phased out Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE).
  • New chemical feedstock: This technology could be combined with an isoprene production system to result in the chemical synthesis of rubber.


Patent Status


Patent pending




Dennis Gray, Thomas Sharkey, Eric Singsaas


Tech ID




Patent Information:

For Information, Contact:

Thomas Herlache
Assistant Director
Michigan State University