Synergy at work: linking the metabolism of two lactic acid bacteria to achieve superior production of 2-butanol

Mette Jurlander Mar, Joakim Mark Andersen, Vijayalakshmi Kandasamy, Jianming Liu, Christian Solem, Peter Ruhdal Jensen*

*Corresponding author for this work

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The secondary alcohol 2-butanol has many important applications, e.g., as a solvent. Industrially, it is usually made by sulfuric acid-catalyzed hydration of butenes. Microbial production of 2-butanol has also been attempted, however, with little success as witnessed by the low titers and yields reported. Two important reasons for this, are the growth-hampering effect of 2-butanol on microorganisms, and challenges associated with one of the key enzymes involved in its production, namely diol dehydratase.

We attempt to link the metabolism of an engineered Lactococcus lactis strain, which possesses all enzyme activities required for fermentative production of 2-butanol from glucose, except for diol dehydratase, which acts on meso-2,3-butanediol (mBDO), with that of a Lactobacillus brevis strain which expresses a functional dehydratase natively. We demonstrate growth-coupled production of 2-butanol by the engineered L. lactis strain, when co-cultured with L. brevis. After fine-tuning the co-culture setup, a titer of 80 mM (5.9 g/L) 2-butanol, with a high yield of 0.58 mol/mol is achieved.

Here, we demonstrate that it is possible to link the metabolism of two bacteria to achieve redox-balanced production of 2-butanol. Using a simple co-cultivation setup, we achieved the highest titer and yield from glucose in a single fermentation step ever reported. The data highlight the potential that lies in harnessing microbial synergies for producing valuable compounds.
Original languageEnglish
Article number45
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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