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A biosynthetic pathway using pivalic acid as a starter unit was found in three bacterial species, Alicyclobacillus acidoterrestris, Rhodococcus erythropolis and Streptomyces avermitilis. When deuterium-labelled pivalic acid was added to A. acidoterrestris and R. erythropolis nutrient media it was incorporated into fatty acids to give rise to tert-butyl fatty acids (t-FAs). In addition, in R. erythropolis, pivalic acid was transformed into two starter units, i.e. isobutyric and 2-methylbutyric acid, which served as precursors of corresponding iso-even FAs and anteiso-FAs. In S. avermitilis the biosynthesis also yielded all three branched FAs; apart from this pathway, both pivalic and 2-methylbutyric acids were incorporated into the antibiotic avermectin.