Research Article: Glycerol conversion to 1, 3-Propanediol is enhanced by the expression of a heterologous alcohol dehydrogenase gene in Lactobacillus reuteri

Date Published: November 4, 2011

Publisher: Springer

Author(s): Hema Vaidyanathan, Vijayalakshmi Kandasamy, Gopi Gopal Ramakrishnan, KB Ramachandran, Guhan Jayaraman, Subramanian Ramalingam.


In this work, Lactobacillus reuteri has been metabolically engineered for improving 1, 3-propanediol (1, 3-PD) production by the expression of an Escherichia coli alcohol dehydrogenase, yqhD, that is known to efficiently convert the precursor 3-hydroxypropionaldehyde (3-HPA) to 1, 3-PD. The engineered strain exhibited significantly altered formation rates for the product and other metabolites during the fermentation. An increase in the 1, 3-PD specific productivity of 34% and molar yield by 13% was achieved in the clone, relative to the native strain. A concomitant decrease in the levels of toxic intermediate, 3-HPA, was observed, with the specific productivity levels being 25% lesser than that of the native strain. Interestingly, the recombinant strain exhibited elevated rates of lactate and ethanol formation as well as reduced rate of acetate production, compared to the native strain. The preferential utilization of NADPH by YqhD with a possible decrease in the native 1, 3-PD oxidoreductase (NADH-dependent) activity, could have resulted in the diversion of surplus NADH towards increased lactate and ethanol productivities.

Partial Text

Biological processes are eco-friendly and sustainable alternatives to conventional chemical processes for production of several industrially important bulk chemicals like succinic acid, lactic acid, 1, 3-propanediol, 1, 4-butanediol, etc. (Biebl et al. 1998; Chotani et al. 2000; Song and Lee 2006). Such processes could be economically viable if they are based on renewable feedstocks. Glycerol, a surplus byproduct of the biodiesel industry holds promise as a major feedstock for synthesis of platform chemicals such as 1, 3-propanediol (Zhu et al. 2002). Currently, 1, 3-propanediol (1, 3-PD) has attracted worldwide interest due to its enormous applications in polymers, cosmetics, foods, adhesives, lubricants, laminates, solvents, antifreeze and medicines (Homann et al. 1990; Colin et al. 2000; Zhu et al. 2002; Cheng et al. 2007).

L. reuteri produces 1, 3-PD along with 3-HPA only when glycerol is cofermented with glucose. Lower glucose levels have been shown to favour 3-HPA formation. Higher glucose concentrations generate more NADH, that is consumed for reducing 3-HPA to 1, 3-PD. Glycerol serves as an electron sink by recycling NADH produced during glycolysis (Luthi-Peng et al. 2002; Schutz and Radler 1984). In this work, 1, 3-PD synthesis is observed both in native and recombinant strains only when both the carbon sources are utilized (Figure 4, 6b). In the case of native strain, glycerol consumption upon exhaustion of glucose resulted in 3-HPA accumulation, since NADH supply could be limited by reduced glycolysis. Thus redox balance plays a crucial role in 1, 3-PD formation.

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.




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