Ethanol synthesis from glycerol by Escherichia coli redox mutants expressing adhE from Leuconostoc mesenteroides

Pablo Ivan Nikel, M. C. Ramirez, M. J. Pettinari, Beatriz S. Méndez, Miguel A. Galvagno

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Aims: Analysis of the physiology and metabolism of Escherichia coli arcA and creC mutants expressing a bifunctional alcohol-acetaldehyde dehydrogenase from Leuconostoc mesenteroides growing on glycerol under oxygen-restricted conditions. The effect of an ldhA mutation and different growth medium modifications was also assessed.Methods and Results: Expression of adhE in E. coli CT1061 [arcA creC(Con)] resulted in a 1·4-fold enhancement in ethanol synthesis. Significant amounts of lactate were produced during micro-oxic cultures and strain CT1061LE, in which fermentative lactate dehydrogenase was deleted, produced up to 6·5 ± 0·3 g l-1 ethanol in 48 h. Escherichia coli CT1061LE derivatives resistant to > 25 g l-1 ethanol were obtained by metabolic evolution. Pyruvate and acetaldehyde addition significantly increased both biomass and ethanol concentrations, probably by overcoming acetyl-coenzyme A (CoA) shortage. Yeast extract also promoted growth and ethanol synthesis, and this positive effect was mainly attributable to its vitamin content. Two-stage bioreactor cultures were conducted in a minimal medium containing 100 μg l-1 calcium d-pantothenate to evaluate oxic acetyl-CoA synthesis followed by a switch into fermentative conditions. Ethanol reached 15·4 ± 0·9 g 1-1 with a volumetric productivity of 0·34 ± 0· 02 g l-1 h-1.Conclusions: Escherichia coli responded to adhE over-expression by funnelling carbon and reducing equivalents into a highly reduced metabolite, ethanol. Acetyl-CoA played a key role in micro-oxic ethanol synthesis and growth.Significance and Impact of the Study: Insight into the micro-oxic metabolism of E. coli growing on glycerol is essential for the development of efficient industrial processes for reduced biochemicals production from this substrate, with special relevance to biofuels synthesis.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Applied Microbiology
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)492-504
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2010
Externally publishedYes


  • Acetyl-CoA availability
  • Alcohol-acetaldehyde dehydrogenase
  • Escherichia coli
  • Glycerol metabolism
  • Heterologous gene expression
  • Microaerobiosis
  • Microbial physiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Ethanol synthesis from glycerol by <i>Escherichia coli</i> redox mutants expressing <i>adhE</i> from<i> Leuconostoc mesenteroides</i>'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this