Stereospecific Synthesis of Rhamnolipids and their Sugar Analogues from Sustainable Sources by Chemical and Chemoenzymatic Pathway

Case ID:

This technology is a method of synthesizing enantiomerically pure rhamnolipids without the need for a chromatographic separation, such synthesis using enzymatic processing.  The method may be used to create compounds with multiple, specific chiral centers.  
Rhamnolipids are a type of chemical notable particularly for their surfactant properties. Unlike most traditional surfactants (such as soaps and detergents), rhamnolipids can be created through an environmentally friendly process, and the resultant chemical is generally less harmful than traditional surfactants.

This technology enables production of one specific enantiomer of a given rhamnolipid. Enantiomers have the same chemical formula, but are non-superimposable mirror images of each other, much like a person’s left and right hands. It is valuable to be able to produce specific enantiomers because, despite having the same chemical formula, two enantiomers can have different effects on living organisms.

Existing methods of producing enantiomerically pure rhamnolipids involve first creating a 50-50 mixture, and then separating out the desired molecules. This is an expensive and difficult process. This technology addresses this problem, resulting in an environmentally, cost effective, and scalable production process.


  • Fine chemicals
  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Food
  • Agriculture


  • Simple process
  • Selective production of chiral compounds
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Capable of being produced at industrial scale
Patent Information:
Contact For More Information:
Laura Silva
Sr. Licensing Manager, COS
The University of Arizona
Lead Inventor(s):
Jeanne Pemberton
Tyler Roberts