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Adipic acid is one of the most important small molecules in the modern chemical industry. However, the damaging environmental impact of the current industrial synthesis of adipic acid has necessitated the development of greener, biobased approaches to its manufacture. Herein we report the first one-pot synthesis of adipic acid from guaiacol, a lignin-derived feedstock, using genetically engineered whole-cells of Escherichia coli. The reaction is mild, efficient, requires no additional additives or reagents, and produces no byproducts. This study demonstrates how modern synthetic biology can be used to valorize abundant feedstocks into industrially relevant small molecules in living cells.