Journal of industrial microbiology & biotechnology. 2011-09-01; 38.9: 1371-7.

Adaptive evolution of nontransgenic Escherichia coli KC01 for improved ethanol tolerance and homoethanol fermentation from xylose

Wang Y, Manow R, Finan C, Wang J, Garza E, Zhou S

PMID: 21188614


Due to its excellent capability to ferment five-carbon sugars, Escherichia coli has been considered one of the platform organisms to be engineered for production of cellulosic ethanol. Nevertheless, genetically engineered ethanologenic E. coli lacks the essential trait of alcohol tolerance. Development of ethanol tolerance is required for cost-effective ethanol fermentation. In this study, we improved alcohol tolerance of a nontransgenic E. coli KC01 (ldhA pflB ackA frdBC pdhR::pflBp6-aceEF-lpd) through adaptive evolution. During ~350 generations of adaptive evolution, a gradually increased concentration of ethanol was used as a selection pressure to enrich ethanol-tolerant mutants. The evolved mutant, E. coli SZ470, was able to grow anaerobically at 40 g l(-1) ethanol, a twofold improvement over parent KC01. When compared with KC01 for small-scale (500 ml) xylose (50 g l(-1)) fermentation, SZ470 achieved 67% higher cell mass, 48% faster volumetric ethanol productivity, and 50% shorter time to complete fermentation with ethanol titer of 23.5 g l(-1) and yield of 94%. These results demonstrate that an industry-oriented nontransgenic E. coli strain could be developed through incremental improvements of desired traits by a combination of molecular biology and traditional microbiology techniques.

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