Ethanol Metabolism Dynamics in Clostridium ljungdahlii Grown on Carbon Monoxide.
ABSTRACT: Bioethanol production from syngas using acetogenic bacteria has attracted considerable attention in recent years. However, low ethanol yield is the biggest challenge that prevents the commercialization of syngas fermentation into biofuels using microbial catalysts. The present study demonstrated that ethanol metabolism plays an important role in recycling NADH/NAD+ during autotrophic growth. Deletion of bifunctional aldehyde/alcohol dehydrogenase (adhE) genes leads to significant growth deficiencies in gas fermentation. Using specific fermentation technology in which the gas pressure and pH were constantly controlled at 0.1?MPa and 6.0, respectively, we revealed that ethanol was formed during the exponential phase, closely accompanied by biomass production. Then, ethanol was oxidized to acetate via the aldehyde ferredoxin oxidoreductase pathway in Clostridium ljungdahlii A metabolic experiment using 13C-labeled ethanol and acetate, redox balance analysis, and comparative transcriptomic analysis demonstrated that ethanol production and reuse shared the metabolic pathway but occurred at different growth phases.IMPORTANCE Ethanol production from carbon monoxide (CO) as a carbon and energy source by Clostridium ljungdahlii and "Clostridium autoethanogenum" is currently being commercialized. During gas fermentation, ethanol synthesis is NADH-dependent. However, ethanol oxidation and its regulatory mechanism remain incompletely understood. Energy metabolism analysis demonstrated that reduced ferredoxin is the sole source of NADH formation by the Rnf-ATPase system, which provides ATP for cell growth during CO fermentation. Therefore, ethanol production is tightly linked to biomass production (ATP production). Clarification of the mechanism of ethanol oxidation and biosynthesis can provide an important reference for generating high-ethanol-yield strains of C. ljungdahlii in the future.
Project description:Synthesis gas (syngas) fermentation by anaerobic acetogenic bacteria employing the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway is a bioprocess for production of biofuels and biocommodities. The major fermentation products of the most relevant biocatalytic strains (Clostridium ljungdahlii, C. autoethanogenum, C. ragsdalei, and C. coskatii) are acetic acid and ethanol. A comparative metabolic and genomic analysis using the mentioned biocatalysts might offer targets for metabolic engineering and thus improve the production of compounds apart from ethanol. Autotrophic growth and product formation of the four wild type (WT) strains were compared in uncontrolled batch experiments. The genomes of C. ragsdalei and C. coskatii were sequenced and the genome sequences of all four biocatalytic strains analyzed in comparative manner. Growth and product spectra (acetate, ethanol, 2,3-butanediol) of C. autoethanogenum, C. ljungdahlii, and C. ragsdalei were rather similar. In contrast, C. coskatii produced significantly less ethanol and its genome sequence lacks two genes encoding aldehyde:ferredoxin oxidoreductases (AOR). Comparative genome sequence analysis of the four WT strains revealed high average nucleotide identity (ANI) of C. ljungdahlii and C. autoethanogenum (99.3%) and C. coskatii (98.3%). In contrast, C. ljungdahlii WT and C. ragsdalei WT showed an ANI-based similarity of only 95.8%. Additionally, recombinant C. ljungdahlii strains were constructed that harbor an artificial acetone synthesis operon (ASO) consisting of the following genes: adc, ctfA, ctfB, and thlA (encoding acetoacetate decarboxylase, acetoacetyl-CoA:acetate/butyrate:CoA-transferase subunits A and B, and thiolase) under the control of thlA promoter (P thlA ) from C. acetobutylicum or native pta-ack promoter (P pta-ack ) from C. ljungdahlii. Respective recombinant strains produced 2-propanol rather than acetone, due to the presence of a NADPH-dependent primary-secondary alcohol dehydrogenase that converts acetone to 2-propanol. Furthermore, the ClosTron(TM) system was used to construct an adhE1 integration mutant. These results provide extensive insights into genetic features of industrially relevant bacterial biocatalysts and expand the toolbox for metabolic engineering of acetogenic bacteria able to ferment syngas.
Project description:Synthesis gas (syngas) fermentation using acetogenic bacteria is an approach for production of bulk chemicals like acetate, ethanol, butanol, or 2,3-butandiol avoiding the fuel vs. food debate by using carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and hydrogen from gasification of biomass or industrial waste gases. Suffering from energetic limitations, yields of C4-molecules produced by syngas fermentation are quite low compared with ABE fermentation using sugars as a substrate. On the other hand, fungal production of malic acid has high yields of product per gram metabolized substrate but is currently limited to sugar containing substrates. In this study, it was possible to show that Aspergilus oryzae is able to produce malic acid using acetate as sole carbon source which is a main product of acetogenic syngas fermentation. Bioreactor cultivations were conducted in 2.5 L stirred tank reactors. During the syngas fermentation part of the sequential mixed culture, Clostridium ljungdahlii was grown in modified Tanner medium and sparged with 20 mL/min of artificial syngas mimicking a composition of clean syngas from entrained bed gasification of straw (32.5 vol-% CO, 32.5 vol-% H2, 16 vol-% CO2, and 19 vol-% N2) using a microsparger. Syngas consumption was monitored via automated gas chromatographic measurement of the off-gas. For the fungal fermentation part gas sparging was switched to 0.6 L/min of air and a standard sparger. Ammonia content of medium for syngas fermentation was reduced to 0.33 g/L NH4Cl to meet the requirements for fungal production of dicarboxylic acids. Malic acid production performance of A. oryzae in organic acid production medium and syngas medium with acetate as sole carbon source was verified and gave YP?S values of 0.28 g/g and 0.37 g/g respectively. Growth and acetate formation of C. ljungdahlii during syngas fermentation were not affected by the reduced ammonia content and 66 % of the consumed syngas was converted to acetate. The overall conversion of CO and H2 into malic acid was calculated to be 3.5 g malic acid per mol of consumed syngas or 0.22 g malic acid per gram of syngas.
Project description:Microbial fermentation of synthesis gas (syngas) is becoming more attractive for sustainable production of commodity chemicals. To date, syngas fermentation focuses mainly on the use of Clostridium species for the production of small organic molecules such as ethanol and acetate. The co-cultivation of syngas-fermenting microorganisms with chain-elongating bacteria can expand the range of possible products, allowing, for instance, the production of medium-chain fatty acids (MCFA) and alcohols from syngas. To explore these possibilities, we report herein a genome-scale, constraint-based metabolic model to describe growth of a co-culture of Clostridium autoethanogenum and Clostridium kluyveri on syngas for the production of valuable compounds. Community flux balance analysis was used to gain insight into the metabolism of the two strains and their interactions, and to reveal potential strategies enabling production of butyrate and hexanoate. The model suggests that one strategy to optimize the production of medium-chain fatty-acids from syngas would be the addition of succinate. According to the prediction, addition of succinate would increase the pool of crotonyl-CoA and the ethanol/acetate uptake ratio in C. kluyveri, resulting in a flux of up to 60 % of electrons into hexanoate. Another potential way to further optimize butyrate and hexanoate production would be an increase of C. autoethanogenum ethanol production. Blocking either acetaldehyde dehydrogenase or formate dehydrogenase (ferredoxin) activity or formate transport, in the C. autoethanogenum metabolic model could potentially lead to an up to 150 % increase in ethanol production.
Project description:Clostridium ljungdahlii is an important synthesis gas-fermenting bacterium used in the biofuels industry, and a preliminary investigation showed that it has some tolerance to oxygen when cultured in rich mixotrophic medium. Batch cultures not only continue to grow and consume H2, CO, and fructose after 8% O2 exposure, but fermentation product analysis revealed an increase in ethanol concentration and decreased acetate concentration compared to non-oxygen-exposed cultures. In this study, the mechanisms for higher ethanol production and oxygen/reactive oxygen species (ROS) detoxification were identified using a combination of fermentation, transcriptome sequencing (RNA-seq) differential expression, and enzyme activity analyses. The results indicate that the higher ethanol and lower acetate concentrations were due to the carboxylic acid reductase activity of a more highly expressed predicted aldehyde oxidoreductase (CLJU_c24130) and that C. ljungdahlii's primary defense upon oxygen exposure is a predicted rubrerythrin (CLJU_c39340). The metabolic responses of higher ethanol production and oxygen/ROS detoxification were found to be linked by cofactor management and substrate and energy metabolism. This study contributes new insights into the physiology and metabolism of C. ljungdahlii and provides new genetic targets to generate C. ljungdahlii strains that produce more ethanol and are more tolerant to syngas contaminants.
Project description:Acetogens are promising cell factories for producing fuels and chemicals from waste feedstocks via gas fermentation, but quantitative characterization of carbon, energy, and redox metabolism is required to guide their rational metabolic engineering. Here, we explore acetogen gas fermentation using physiological, metabolomics, and transcriptomics data for Clostridium autoethanogenum steady-state chemostat cultures grown on syngas at various gas-liquid mass transfer rates. We observe that C. autoethanogenum shifts from acetate to ethanol production to maintain ATP homeostasis at higher biomass concentrations but reaches a limit at a molar acetate/ethanol ratio of ∼1. This regulatory mechanism eventually leads to depletion of the intracellular acetyl-CoA pool and collapse of metabolism. We accurately predict growth phenotypes using a genome-scale metabolic model. Modeling revealed that the methylene-THF reductase reaction was ferredoxin reducing. This work provides a reference dataset to advance the understanding and engineering of arguably the first carbon fixation pathway on Earth. Overall design: RNA sequencing of syngas-grown Clostridium autoethanogenum at four steady-state biomass concentrations; 12 samples in total with various number of biological replicate samples
Project description:Background:Gas-fermenting acetogens have received a great deal of attention for their ability to grow on various syngas and waste gas containing carbon monoxide (CO), producing acetate as the primary metabolite. Among them, some Clostridium species, such as C. ljungdahlii and C. autoethanogenum, are of particular interest as they produce fuel alcohols as well. Despite recent efforts, alcohol production by these species is still unsatisfactory due to their low productivity and acetate accumulation, necessitating the isolation of strains with better phenotypes. Results:In this study, a novel alcohol-producing acetogen (Clostridium sp. AWRP) was isolated, and its complete genome was sequenced. This bacterium belongs the same phylogenetic group as C. ljungdahlii, C. autoethanogenum, C. ragsdalei, and C. coskatii based on 16S rRNA homology; however, the levels of genome-wide average nucleotide identity (gANI) for strain AWRP compared with these strains range between 95 and 96%, suggesting that this strain can be classified as a novel species. In addition, strain AWRP produced a substantial amount of ethanol (70-90 mM) from syngas in batch serum bottle cultures, which was comparable to or even exceeded the typical values obtained using its close relatives cultivated under similar conditions. In a batch bioreactor, strain AWRP produced 119 and 12 mM of ethanol and 2,3-butanediol, respectively, while yielding only 1.4 mM of residual acetate. Interestingly, the alcohologenesis of this strain was strongly affected by oxidoreduction potential (ORP), which has not been reported with other gas-fermenting clostridia. Conclusion:Considering its ethanol production under low oxidoreduction potential (ORP) conditions, Clostridium sp. AWRP will be an interesting host for biochemical studies to understand the physiology of alcohol-producing acetogens, which will contribute to metabolic engineering of those strains for the production of alcohols and other value-added compounds from syngas.
Project description:Both CO and H2 can be utilized as energy sources during the autotrophic growth of Clostridium ljungdahlii. In principle, CO is a more energetically and thermodynamically favorable energy source for gas fermentation in comparison to H2. Therefore, metabolism may vary during growth under different energy sources. In this study, C. ljungdahlii was fed with CO and/or CO2/H2 at pH 6.0 with a gas pressure of 0.1 MPa. C. ljungdahlii primarily produced acetate in the presence of H2 as an energy source, but produced alcohols with CO as an energy source under the same fermentation conditions. A key enzyme activity assay, metabolic flux analysis, and comparative transcriptomics were performed for investigating the response mechanism of C. ljungdahlii under different energy sources. A CO dehydrogenase and an aldehyde:ferredoxin oxidoreductase were found to play important roles in CO utilization and alcohol production. Based on these findings, novel metabolic schemes are proposed for C. ljungdahlii growing on CO and/or CO2/H2. These schemes indicate that more ATP is produced during CO-fermentation than during H2-fermentation, leading to increased alcohol production.
Project description:<h4>Background</h4>The product of current syngas fermentation systems is an ethanol/acetic acid mixture and the goal is to maximize ethanol recovery. However, ethanol currently has a relatively low market value and its separation from the fermentation broth is energy intensive. We can circumvent these disadvantages of ethanol production by converting the dilute ethanol/acetic acid mixture into products with longer carbon backbones, which are of higher value and are more easily extracted than ethanol. Chain elongation, which is the bioprocess in which ethanol is used to elongate short-chain carboxylic acids to medium-chain carboxylic acids (MCCAs), has been studied with pure cultures and open cultures of microbial consortia (microbiomes) with several different substrates. While upgrading syngas fermentation effluent has been studied with open cultures, to our knowledge, no study exists that has performed this with pure cultures.<h4>Results</h4>Here, pure cultures of <i>Clostridium kluyveri</i> were used in continuous bioreactors to convert ethanol/acetic acid mixtures into MCCAs. Besides changing the operating conditions in regards to substrate loading rates and composition, the effect of in-line product extraction, pH, and the use of real syngas fermentation effluent on production rates were tested. Increasing the organic loading rates resulted in proportionally higher production rates of <i>n</i>-caproic acid, which were up to 40 mM day<sup>-1</sup> (4.64 g L<sup>-1</sup> day<sup>-1</sup>) at carbon conversion efficiencies of 90% or higher. The production rates were similar for bioreactors with and without in-line product extraction. Furthermore, a lower ethanol/acetic acid ratio (3:1 instead of 10:1) enabled faster and more efficient <i>n</i>-caproic acid production. In addition, <i>n</i>-caprylic acid production was observed for the first time with <i>C. kluyveri</i> (up to 2.19 ± 0.34 mM in batch). Finally, the use of real effluent from syngas fermentation, without added yeast extract, but with added defined growth factors, did maintain similar production rates. Throughout the operating period, we observed that the metabolism of <i>C. kluyveri</i> was inhibited at a mildly acidic pH value of 5.5 compared to a pH value of 7.0, while reactor microbiomes perform successfully at mildly acidic conditions.<h4>Conclusions</h4><i>Clostridium kluyveri</i> can be used as a biocatalyst to upgrade syngas fermentation effluent into MCCAs at pH values above 5.5.
Project description:Clostridium ljungdahlii derives energy by lithotrophic and organotrophic acetogenesis. C. ljungdahlii was grown organotrophically with fructose and also lithotrophically, either with syngas - a gas mixture containing hydrogen (H2), carbon dioxide (CO2), and carbon monoxide (CO), or with H2 and CO2. Gene expression was compared quantitatively by microarrays using RNA extracted from all three conditions. Gene expression with fructose and with H2/CO2 was compared by RNA-Seq. Upregulated genes with both syngas and H2/CO2 (compared to fructose) point to the urea cycle, uptake and degradation of peptides and amino acids, response to sulfur starvation, potentially NADPH-producing pathways involving (S)-malate and ornithine, quorum sensing, sporulation, and cell wall remodeling, suggesting a global and multicellular response to lithotrophic conditions. With syngas, the upregulated (R)-lactate dehydrogenase gene represents a route of electron transfer from ferredoxin to NAD. With H2/CO2, flavodoxin and histidine biosynthesis genes were upregulated. Downregulated genes corresponded to an intracytoplasmic microcompartment for disposal of methylglyoxal, a toxic byproduct of glycolysis, as 1-propanol. Several cytoplasmic and membrane-associated redox-active protein genes were differentially regulated. The transcriptomic profiles of C. ljungdahlii in lithotrophic and organotrophic growth modes indicate large-scale physiological and metabolic differences, observations that may guide biofuel and commodity chemical production with this species.
Project description:Ferredoxin:NAD<sup>+</sup> oxidoreductase (NADH-FNOR) catalyzes the transfer of electrons from reduced ferredoxin to NAD<sup>+</sup> This enzyme has been hypothesized to be the main enzyme responsible for ferredoxin oxidization in the NADH-based ethanol pathway in Thermoanaerobacterium saccharolyticum; however, the corresponding gene has not yet been identified. Here, we identified the Tsac_1705 protein as a candidate FNOR based on the homology of its functional domains. We then confirmed its activity in vitro with a ferredoxin-based FNOR assay. To determine its role in metabolism, the tsac_1705 gene was deleted in different strains of T. saccharolyticum In wild-type T. saccharolyticum, deletion of tsac_1705 resulted in a 75% loss of NADH-FNOR activity, which indicated that Tsac_1705 is the main NADH-FNOR in T. saccharolyticum When both NADH- and NADPH-linked FNOR genes were deleted, the ethanol titer decreased and the ratio of ethanol to acetate approached unity, indicative of the absence of FNOR activity. Finally, we tested the effect of heterologous expression of Tsac_1705 in Clostridium thermocellum and found improvements in both the titer and the yield of ethanol.<h4>Importance</h4>Redox balance plays a crucial role in many metabolic engineering strategies. Ferredoxins are widely used as electron carriers for anaerobic microorganism and plants. This study identified the gene responsible for electron transfer from ferredoxin to NAD<sup>+</sup>, a key reaction in the ethanol production pathway of this organism and many other metabolic pathways. Identification of this gene is an important step in transferring the ethanol production ability of this organism to other organisms.