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Enhanced solvent production by metabolic engineering of a twin-clostridial consortium

Wen, Zhiqiang, Minton, Nigel P., Zhang, Ying, Li, Qi, Liu, Jinle, Jiang, Yu, Yang, Sheng
Metabolic engineering 2017 v.39 pp. 38-48
Clostridium beijerinckii, Clostridium cellulovorans, acetate kinase, acetone, bioprocessing, butanol, butyrates, carbon, corn cobs, ethanol, ethanol production, feedstocks, fermentation, ferredoxin hydrogenase, gene expression regulation, genes, lactate dehydrogenase, lignocellulose, metabolic engineering, organic acids and salts, pentoses, solvents
The efficient fermentative production of solvents (acetone, n-butanol, and ethanol) from a lignocellulosic feedstock using a single process microorganism has yet to be demonstrated. Herein, we developed a consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) based on a twin-clostridial consortium composed of Clostridium cellulovorans and Clostridium beijerinckii capable of producing cellulosic butanol from alkali-extracted, deshelled corn cobs (AECC). To accomplish this a genetic system was developed for C. cellulovorans and used to knock out the genes encoding acetate kinase (Clocel_1892) and lactate dehydrogenase (Clocel_1533), and to overexpress the gene encoding butyrate kinase (Clocel_3674), thereby pulling carbon flux towards butyrate production. In parallel, to enhance ethanol production, the expression of a putative hydrogenase gene (Clocel_2243) was down-regulated using CRISPR interference (CRISPRi). Simultaneously, genes involved in organic acids reassimilation (ctfAB, cbei_3833/3834) and pentose utilization (xylR, cbei_2385 and xylT, cbei_0109) were engineered in C. beijerinckii to enhance solvent production. The engineered twin-clostridia consortium was shown to decompose 83.2g/L of AECC and produce 22.1g/L of solvents (4.25g/L acetone, 11.5g/L butanol and 6.37g/L ethanol). This titer of acetone-butanol-ethanol (ABE) approximates to that achieved from a starchy feedstock. The developed twin-clostridial consortium serves as a promising platform for ABE fermentation from lignocellulose by CBP.