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1.  Thermophilic fermentation of acetoin and 2,3-butanediol by a novel Geobacillus strain 
Acetoin and 2,3-butanediol are two important biorefinery platform chemicals. They are currently fermented below 40°C using mesophilic strains, but the processes often suffer from bacterial contamination.
This work reports the isolation and identification of a novel aerobic Geobacillus strain XT15 capable of producing both of these chemicals under elevated temperatures, thus reducing the risk of bacterial contamination. The optimum growth temperature was found to be between 45 and 55°C and the medium initial pH to be 8.0. In addition to glucose, galactose, mannitol, arabionose, and xylose were all acceptable substrates, enabling the potential use of cellulosic biomass as the feedstock. XT15 preferred organic nitrogen sources including corn steep liquor powder, a cheap by-product from corn wet-milling. At 55°C, 7.7 g/L of acetoin and 14.5 g/L of 2,3-butanediol could be obtained using corn steep liquor powder as a nitrogen source. Thirteen volatile products from the cultivation broth of XT15 were identified by gas chromatography–mass spectrometry. Acetoin, 2,3-butanediol, and their derivatives including a novel metabolite 2,3-dihydroxy-3-methylheptan-4-one, accounted for a total of about 96% of all the volatile products. In contrast, organic acids and other products were minor by-products. α-Acetolactate decarboxylase and acetoin:2,6-dichlorophenolindophenol oxidoreductase in XT15, the two key enzymes in acetoin metabolic pathway, were found to be both moderately thermophilic with the identical optimum temperature of 45°C.
Geobacillus sp. XT15 is the first naturally occurring thermophile excreting acetoin and/or 2,3-butanediol. This work has demonstrated the attractive prospect of developing it as an industrial strain in the thermophilic fermentation of acetoin and 2,3-butanediol with improved anti-contamination performance. The novel metabolites and enzymes identified in XT15 also indicated its strong promise as a precious biological resource. Thermophilic fermentation also offers great prospect for improving its yields and efficiencies. This remains a core aim for future work.
PMCID: PMC3538569  PMID: 23217110
Acetoin; 2,3-butanediol; Thermophilic fermentation; Geobacillus; Novel metabolite; Key enzymes
2.  Physiological and biochemical role of the butanediol pathway in Aerobacter (Enterobacter) aerogenes. 
Journal of Bacteriology  1975;123(3):1124-1130.
Aerobacter (Enterobacter) aerogenes wild type and three mutants deficient in the formation of acetoin and 2,3-butanediol were grown in a glucose minimal medium. Culture densities, pH, and diacetyl, acetoin, and 2,3-butanediol levels were recorded. The pH in wild-type cultures dropped from 7.0 to 5.8, remained constant while acetoin and 2,3-butanediol were formed, and increased to pH 6.5 after exhaustion of the carbon source. More 2,3-butanediol than acetoin was formed initially, but after glucose exhaustion reoxidation to acetoin occurred. The three mutants differed from the wild type in yielding acid cultures (pH below 4.5). The wild type and one of the mutants were grown exponentially under aerobic and anaerobic conditions with the pH fixed at 7.0, 5.8, and 5.0, respectively. Growth rates decreased with decreasing pH values. Aerobically, this effect was weak, and the two strains were affected to the same degree. Under anaerobic conditions, the growth rates were markedly inhibited at a low pH, and the mutant was slightly more affected than the wild type. Levels of alcohol dehydrogenase were low under all conditions, indicating that the enzyme plays no role during exponential growth. The levels of diacetyl (acetoin) reductase, lactate dehydrogenase, and phosphotransacetylase were independent of the pH during aerobic growth of the two strains. Under anaerobic conditions, the formation of diacetyl (acetoin) reductase was pH dependent, with much higher levels of the enzyme at pH 5.0 than at pH 7.0. Lactate dehydrogenase and phosphotransacetylase revealed the same pattern of pH-dependent formation in the mutant, but not in the wild type.
PMCID: PMC235836  PMID: 239921
3.  Effects of pH and Sugar on Acetoin Production from Citrate by Leuconostoc lactis 
The relationship between acetoin production and citrate utilization in Leuconostoc lactis NCW1 was studied. In a complex medium the organism utilized citrate at neutral pH (initial pH, 6.3) and at acid pH (initial pH, 4.5) but produced nine times more acetoin at the latter pH. In resting cells the utilization of citrate was optimum at pH 5.3. Production of acetoin as a function of citrate utilization increased as the pH decreased, and at pH 4.3 all of the citrate utilized was recovered as acetoin. Glucose (10 mM) and lactose (10 mM) markedly stimulated citrate utilization but totally inhibited acetoin production in glucose- and lactose-grown cells. Addition of glucose to cells actively metabolizing citrate caused an immediate increase in citrate uptake and a reduction in the level of acetoin. The apparent Km values of lactic dehydrogenase for pyruvate were 1.05, 0.25, and 0.15 mM at pH 7.5, 6.5, and 5.0, respectively. Several heterofermentation intermediates inhibited α-acetolactate synthetase and decarboxylase activities. The implications of these results in regulating acetoin formatin are discussed.
PMCID: PMC243632  PMID: 16345676
4.  Oxidation of Metabolites Highlights the Microbial Interactions and Role of Acetobacter pasteurianus during Cocoa Bean Fermentation 
Four cocoa-specific acetic acid bacterium (AAB) strains, namely, Acetobacter pasteurianus 386B, Acetobacter ghanensis LMG 23848T, Acetobacter fabarum LMG 24244T, and Acetobacter senegalensis 108B, were analyzed kinetically and metabolically during monoculture laboratory fermentations. A cocoa pulp simulation medium (CPSM) for AAB, containing ethanol, lactic acid, and mannitol, was used. All AAB strains differed in their ethanol and lactic acid oxidation kinetics, whereby only A. pasteurianus 386B performed a fast oxidation of ethanol and lactic acid into acetic acid and acetoin, respectively. Only A. pasteurianus 386B and A. ghanensis LMG 23848T oxidized mannitol into fructose. Coculture fermentations with A. pasteurianus 386B or A. ghanensis LMG 23848T and Lactobacillus fermentum 222 in CPSM for lactic acid bacteria (LAB) containing glucose, fructose, and citric acid revealed oxidation of lactic acid produced by the LAB strain into acetic acid and acetoin that was faster in the case of A. pasteurianus 386B. A triculture fermentation with Saccharomyces cerevisiae H5S5K23, L. fermentum 222, and A. pasteurianus 386B, using CPSM for LAB, showed oxidation of ethanol and lactic acid produced by the yeast and LAB strain, respectively, into acetic acid and acetoin. Hence, acetic acid and acetoin are the major end metabolites of cocoa bean fermentation. All data highlight that A. pasteurianus 386B displayed beneficial functional roles to be used as a starter culture, namely, a fast oxidation of ethanol and lactic acid, and that these metabolites play a key role as substrates for A. pasteurianus in its indispensable cross-feeding interactions with yeast and LAB during cocoa bean fermentation.
PMCID: PMC3957632  PMID: 24413595
5.  Acetoin production by wild-type strains and a lactate dehydrogenase-deficient mutant of Streptococcus mutans. 
Infection and Immunity  1987;55(6):1399-1402.
Eleven different laboratory strains of Streptococcus mutans representing the various serogroups were found to produce an average of 6.0 +/- 4.8 mM acetoin when grown in glucose-containing medium under aerobic conditions. None of the strains produced detectable acetoin when grown anaerobically. A lactate dehydrogenase-deficient mutant produced acetoin both aerobically and anaerobically and in substantially greater amounts than the wild-type strains did. Substitution of mannitol for glucose resulted in decreased acetoin production by wild-type strains and the lactate dehydrogenase-deficient mutant, indicating a role for NADH2 in the regulation of the acetoin pathway. Pyruvate incorporated into the growth medium of a wild-type strain caused acetoin to be produced anaerobically and stimulated acetoin production aerobically. Cell extracts of a wild-type S. mutans strain were capable of producing acetoin from pyruvate and were (partly) dependent on thiamine PPi. Extracts prepared from aerobically grown cells had approximately twice the acetoin-producing activity as did extracts prepared from anaerobically grown cells. The results indicate that acetoin production by S. mutans may represent an auxiliary reaction of pyruvate dehydrogenase in this organism.
PMCID: PMC260527  PMID: 3570471
6.  Genome Sequence of the Plant Growth Promoting Endophytic Bacterium Enterobacter sp. 638 
PLoS Genetics  2010;6(5):e1000943.
Enterobacter sp. 638 is an endophytic plant growth promoting gamma-proteobacterium that was isolated from the stem of poplar (Populus trichocarpa×deltoides cv. H11-11), a potentially important biofuel feed stock plant. The Enterobacter sp. 638 genome sequence reveals the presence of a 4,518,712 bp chromosome and a 157,749 bp plasmid (pENT638-1). Genome annotation and comparative genomics allowed the identification of an extended set of genes specific to the plant niche adaptation of this bacterium. This includes genes that code for putative proteins involved in survival in the rhizosphere (to cope with oxidative stress or uptake of nutrients released by plant roots), root adhesion (pili, adhesion, hemagglutinin, cellulose biosynthesis), colonization/establishment inside the plant (chemiotaxis, flagella, cellobiose phosphorylase), plant protection against fungal and bacterial infections (siderophore production and synthesis of the antimicrobial compounds 4-hydroxybenzoate and 2-phenylethanol), and improved poplar growth and development through the production of the phytohormones indole acetic acid, acetoin, and 2,3-butanediol. Metabolite analysis confirmed by quantitative RT–PCR showed that, the production of acetoin and 2,3-butanediol is induced by the presence of sucrose in the growth medium. Interestingly, both the genetic determinants required for sucrose metabolism and the synthesis of acetoin and 2,3-butanediol are clustered on a genomic island. These findings point to a close interaction between Enterobacter sp. 638 and its poplar host, where the availability of sucrose, a major plant sugar, affects the synthesis of plant growth promoting phytohormones by the endophytic bacterium. The availability of the genome sequence, combined with metabolome and transcriptome analysis, will provide a better understanding of the synergistic interactions between poplar and its growth promoting endophyte Enterobacter sp. 638. This information can be further exploited to improve establishment and sustainable production of poplar as an energy feedstock on marginal, non-agricultural soils using endophytic bacteria as growth promoting agents.
Author Summary
Poplar is considered as the model tree species for the production of lignocellulosic biomass destined for biofuel production. The plant growth promoting endophytic bacterium Enterobacter sp. 638 can improve the growth of poplar on marginal soils by as much as 40%. This prompted us to sequence the genome of this strain and, via comparative genomics, identify functions essential for the successful colonization and endophytic association with its poplar host. Analysis of the genome sequence, combined with metabolite analysis and quantitative PCR, pointed to a remarkable interaction between Enterobacter sp. 638 and its poplar host with the endophyte responsible for the production of a phytohormone, and a precursor for another that poplar is unable to synthesize, and where the production of the plant growth promoting compounds depended on the presence of plant synthesized compounds, such as sucrose, in the growth medium. Our results provide the basis to better understanding the synergistic interactions between poplar and Enterobacter sp. 638. This information can be further exploited to improve establishment and sustainable production of poplar on marginal, non-agricultural soils using endophytic bacteria such as Enterobacter sp. 638 as growth promoting agents.
PMCID: PMC2869309  PMID: 20485560
7.  Economics of membrane occupancy and respiro-fermentation 
The authors propose that prokaryotic metabolism is fundamentally constrained by the cytoplasmic membrane surface area available for protein expression, and show that this constraint can explain previously puzzling physiological phenomena, including respiro-fermentation.
We propose that prokaryotic cellular metabolism is fundamentally constrained by the finite cytoplasmic membrane surface area available for protein expression.A metabolic model of Escherichia coli updated to include a cytoplasmic membrane constraint is capable of predicting a variety of puzzling phenomena in this organism, including the respiro-fermentation phenomenon.Because the surface area to volume ratio is directly related to the morphology of the cell, this constraint provides a direct link between prokaryotic morphology and physiology.The potential relevance of this constraint to eukaryotes is discussed.
Many heterotrophs can produce ATP through both respiratory and fermentative pathways, allowing them to survive with or without oxygen. Since the molar ATP yield (molar ATP yield: mole of ATP produced/mole of substrate consumed) from respiration is about 15-fold higher than that from fermentation, ATP production via respiration is more efficient. Surprisingly, at high catabolic rate, many facultative aerobic organisms employ fermentative pathways simultaneously with respiration, even in the presence of abundant oxygen to produce ATP (Pfeiffer et al, 2001; Vemuri et al, 2006; Molenaar et al, 2009). This leads to an observable tradeoff between the ATP yield and the catabolic rate (Pfeiffer et al, 2001; Vemuri et al, 2006). This respiro-fermentation physiology is commonly observed in microorganisms, including Escherichia coli, Bacillus subtilis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae (Molenaar et al, 2009), as well as cancer cells (Vander Heiden et al, 2009). Despite extensive research, existing theories (Majewski and Domach, 1990; Varma and Palsson, 1994; Pfeiffer et al, 2001; Vazquez et al, 2008; Molenaar et al, 2009) cannot fully explain the respiro-fermentation phenomenon.
The membrane economics theory
We propose the hypothesis that the prokaryotic metabolism is fundamentally constrained by the finite cytoplasmic surface area available for protein expression—in order to maximize fitness, prokaryotic organisms such as E. coli must economically manage the expression of membrane proteins based on the membrane cost and the fitness benefit of the proteins. This hypothesis is proposed based on theoretical considerations (in this work), numerical analysis (Phillips and Milo, 2009), and experimental observation that the overexpression of non-respiratory membrane protein significantly reduces the oxygen consumption rate and induces aerobic fermentation (Wagner et al, 2007). Such a constraint on transmembrane protein expression may have significant physiological consequences in prokaryotes, such as E. coli, at higher catabolic rates. First, since both substrate transporters and respiratory enzymes are localized on the cytoplasmic membrane in prokaryotes, increased substrate uptake rates necessitates a decrease in the respiratory rate. This decrease in the respiratory rate, forces prokaryotes to process the additional substrate through the fermentative pathways, which are not catalyzed by transmembrane proteins, for continued ATP production. Furthermore, since the membrane requirement of an enzyme is inversely related to its turnover rate (see Materials and methods section in the manuscript), the faster and inefficient respiratory enzymes (such as Cyd-I and Cyd-II in E. coli) might be preferred over the slower and efficient enzymes (such as Cyo in E. coli), leading to an altered respiratory stoichiometry at higher catabolic rates. Finally, the absence of the respiratory enzymes under anaerobic conditions explains why the maximum glucose uptake rate (GUR) of E. coli is much higher.
Applying membrane economics theory to E. coli
To illustrate that the ‘membrane economics' theory could satisfactorily explain the physiological changes associated with the respiro-fermentation phenomenon in E. coli, we modified the genome-scale metabolic model of E. coli (Feist et al, 2007) to include a cytoplasmic membrane occupancy constraint. Using ‘relative membrane costs' calculated from experimental data, the new modeling framework—FBA with membrane economics (FBAME)—predicted that wild-type E. coli has a GUR of 10.7 mmol/gdw/h, an oxygen uptake rate (OUR) of 15.8 mmol/gdw/h, and a specific growth rate of 0.69 per hour during aerobic growth with excess glucose. FBAME also predicted that under the same growth condition, an E. coli knockout strain with no cytochromes has a GUR of 18 mmol/gdw/h and growth rate of 0.42. These values agree very well with the reported experimental values for E. coli grown in batch cultures (Vemuri et al, 2006; Portnoy et al, 2008), which supports our hypothesis that the higher GUR of E. coli during glucose-excess anaerobiosis than under aerobic conditions is due to the absence of the respiratory enzymes. We also simulated the aerobic growth of E. coli in glucose-limited chemostat using both conventional FBA and FBAME. FBAME successfully predicted the growth rate and yield changes with respect to increasing GUR (Figure 2A and B), as well as the aerobic production of acetate (Figure 2C) and concomitant repression of oxygen uptake (Figure 2D). On the other hand, traditional FBA significantly overestimated the growth rate and yield at higher GURs (this overestimation cannot be explained by varying the growth-associated maintenance (GAM) energy parameter; Figure 2A), and failed to predict the decrease in yield independent of acetate overflow and reduction in oxygen uptake at higher GURs (Figure 2). In addition, FBAME was able to predict the reduction of the TCA cycle activities at higher uptake rates (Figure 3C and D) as well as the selective expression of Cyo and Cyd-II at lower uptake rates (Figure 3A and B), whereas conventional FBA cannot predict the expression of inefficient Cyd-II. These predictions agree with the gene expression data from glucose-limited chemostat (Figure 3). Given the simplicity of the constraint we imposed, our model predictions agree surprisingly well with experimental observations, lending strong credibility to the membrane economics hypothesis.
Concluding remarks
Although it has been long suggested that cellular evolution are governed by non-adjustable mechanistic constraints (Palsson, 2000; Papin et al, 2005; Novak et al, 2006), to date, most metabolic models rely on empirically derived parameters such as glucose and OUR. In this article, we showed that complex phenomena, such as the respiro-fermentation in E. coli, could be satisfactorily explained and accurately predicted by using constraint-based optimization by introducing a simple mechanistic constraint on membrane enzyme occupancy. Given that the cytoplasmic membrane occupancy constraint is directly related to the surface area to volume (S/V) ratio of the cell, it is possible that this constraint resulted in the evolution of mitochondria in eukaryotes as mitochondria allows for a significantly increased S/V ratio. Further efforts to elucidate such fundamental cellular constraints as well as the underlying design principles could significantly improve our understanding of the regulation and evolution of metabolism.
The simultaneous utilization of efficient respiration and inefficient fermentation even in the presence of abundant oxygen is a puzzling phenomenon commonly observed in bacteria, yeasts, and cancer cells. Despite extensive research, the biochemical basis for this phenomenon remains obscure. We hypothesize that the outcome of a competition for membrane space between glucose transporters and respiratory chain (which we refer to as economics of membrane occupancy) proteins influences respiration and fermentation. By incorporating a sole constraint based on this concept in the genome-scale metabolic model of Escherichia coli, we were able to simulate respiro-fermentation. Further analysis of the impact of this constraint revealed differential utilization of the cytochromes and faster glucose uptake under anaerobic conditions than under aerobic conditions. Based on these simulations, we propose that bacterial cells manage the composition of their cytoplasmic membrane to maintain optimal ATP production by switching between oxidative and substrate-level phosphorylation. These results suggest that the membrane occupancy constraint may be a fundamental governing constraint of cellular metabolism and physiology, and establishes a direct link between cell morphology and physiology.
PMCID: PMC3159977  PMID: 21694717
constraint-based modeling; flux balance analysis; membrane occupancy; overflow metabolism; respiro-fermentation
8.  Two-Stage pH Control Strategy Based on the pH Preference of Acetoin Reductase Regulates Acetoin and 2,3-Butanediol Distribution in Bacillus subtilis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(3):e91187.
Acetoin reductase/2,3-butanediol dehydrogenase (AR/BDH), which catalyzes the interconversion between acetoin and 2,3-butanediol, plays an important role in distribution of the products pools. This work characterized the Bacillus subtilis AR/BDH for the first time. The enzyme showed very different pH preferences of pH 6.5 for reduction and pH 8.5 for oxidation. Based on these above results, a two-stage pH control strategy was optimized for acetoin production, in which the pH was controlled at 6.5 for quickly converting glucose to acetoin and 2,3-butanediol, and then 8.0 for reversely transforming 2,3-butanediol to acetoin. By over-expression of AR/BDH in the wild-type B. subtilis JNA 3-10 and applying fed-batch fermentation based on the two-stage pH control strategy, acetoin yield of B. subtilis was improved to a new record of 73.6 g/l, with the productivity of 0.77 g/(l·h). The molar yield of acetoin was improved from 57.5% to 83.5% and the ratio of acetoin/2,3-butanediol was switched from 2.7∶1 to 18.0∶1.
PMCID: PMC3946754  PMID: 24608678
9.  Conversion of Pyruvate to Acetoin Helps To Maintain pH Homeostasis in Lactobacillus plantarum† 
Pyruvate is the substrate for diacetyl and acetoin synthesis by lactobacilli. Exogenous pyruvate stimulates acetoin production when glucose is present as an energy source. In Lactobacillus plantarum ATCC 8014, the energy derived from glucose via glycolysis generated a constant proton motive force of about -120 mV. At a low external pH, energized cells rapidly transported and accumulated pyruvate but did not do so when they were deenergized by nigericin. When large amounts of pyruvate were transported and subsequently accumulated internally, the cotransported protons rapidly lowered the internal pH. The conversion of pyruvate to acetoin instead of acidic end products contributed to the maintenance of pH homeostasis. This is the first report showing that the conversion of pyruvate to acetoin serves as a mechanism of pH homeostasis.
PMCID: PMC195350  PMID: 16348677
10.  Citrate Uptake in Exchange with Intermediates in the Citrate Metabolic Pathway in Lactococcus lactis IL1403▿  
Journal of Bacteriology  2010;193(3):706-714.
Carbohydrate/citrate cometabolism in Lactococcus lactis results in the formation of the flavor compound acetoin. Resting cells of strain IL1403(pFL3) rapidly consumed citrate while producing acetoin when substoichiometric concentrations of glucose or l-lactate were present. A proton motive force was generated by electrogenic exchange of citrate and lactate catalyzed by the citrate transporter CitP and proton consumption in decarboxylation reactions in the pathway. In the absence of glucose or l-lactate, citrate consumption was biphasic. During the first phase, hardly any citrate was consumed. In the second phase, citrate was converted rapidly, but without the formation of acetoin. Instead, significant amounts of the intermediates pyruvate and α-acetolactate, and the end product acetate, were excreted from the cells. It is shown that the intermediates and acetate are excreted in exchange with the uptake of citrate catalyzed by CitP. The availability of exchangeable substrates in the cytoplasm determines both the rate of citrate consumption and the end product profile. It follows that citrate metabolism in L. lactis IL1403(pFL3) splits up in two routes after the formation of pyruvate, one the well-characterized route yielding acetoin and the other a new route yielding acetate. The flux distribution between the two branches changes from 85:15 in the presence of l-lactate to 30:70 in the presence of pyruvate. The proton motive force generated was greatest in the presence of l-lactate and zero in the presence of pyruvate, suggesting that the pathway to acetate does not generate proton motive force.
PMCID: PMC3021216  PMID: 21115655
11.  Comparative Assessment of Factors Involved in Acetoin Synthesis by Bacillus subtilis 168 
ISRN Microbiology  2014;2014:578682.
Acetoin is widely used as flavor agent and serves as a precursor for chemical synthesis. Here we focused on identifying the best physiological conditions (initial substrate concentrations, pH, temperature, and agitation) for enhanced acetoin accumulation by Bacillus subtilis 168. The optimal physiological conditions support maximum acetoin accumulation by minimizing byproduct (acetate and butanediol) synthesis and a maximum of 75% enhancement in acetoin yield could be achieved. Additionally, the effect of change in ALS (acetolactate synthase) and ALDC (acetolactate decarboxylase) activities was evaluated on acetoin accumulation. Increasing ALS and ALDC enzyme activities led to efficient utilization of pyruvate towards acetoin accumulation and about 80% enhancement in acetoin accumulation was observed.
PMCID: PMC3964831  PMID: 24734205
12.  Molasses as a source of carbon dioxide for attracting the malaria mosquitoes Anopheles gambiae and Anopheles funestus 
Malaria Journal  2014;13:160.
Most odour baits for haematophagous arthropods contain carbon dioxide (CO2). The CO2 is sourced artificially from the fermentation of refined sugar (sucrose), dry ice, pressurized gas cylinders or propane. These sources of CO2 are neither cost-effective nor sustainable for use in remote areas of sub-Saharan Africa. In this study, molasses was evaluated as a potential substrate for producing CO2 used as bait for malaria mosquitoes.
The attraction of laboratory-reared and wild Anopheles gambiae complex mosquitoes to CO2 generated from yeast-fermentation of molasses was assessed under semi-field and field conditions in western Kenya. In the field, responses of wild Anopheles funestus were also assessed. Attraction of the mosquitoes to a synthetic mosquito attractant, Mbita blend (comprising ammonia, L-lactic acid, tetradecanoic acid and 3-methyl-1-butanol) when augmented with CO2 generated from yeast fermentation of either molasses or sucrose was also investigated.
In semi-field, the release rate of CO2 and proportion of An. gambiae mosquitoes attracted increased in tandem with an increase in the quantity of yeast-fermented molasses up to an optimal ratio of molasses and dry yeast. More An. gambiae mosquitoes were attracted to a combination of the Mbita blend plus CO2 produced from fermenting molasses than the Mbita blend plus CO2 from yeast-fermented sucrose. In the field, significantly more female An. gambiae sensu lato mosquitoes were attracted to the Mbita blend augmented with CO2 produced by fermenting 500 g of molasses compared to 250 g of sucrose or 250 g of molasses. Similarly, significantly more An. funestus, Culex and other anopheline mosquito species were attracted to the Mbita blend augmented with CO2 produced from fermenting molasses than the Mbita blend with CO2 produced from sucrose. Augmenting the Mbita blend with CO2 produced from molasses was associated with high catches of blood-fed An. gambiae s.l. and An. funestus mosquitoes.
Molasses is a suitable ingredient for the replacement of sucrose as a substrate for the production of CO2 for sampling of African malaria vectors and other mosquito species. The finding of blood-fed malaria vectors in traps baited with the Mbita blend and CO2 derived from molasses provides a unique opportunity for the study of host-vector interactions.
PMCID: PMC4020376  PMID: 24767543
Carbon dioxide; Sugar; Sucrose; Molasses; Anopheles gambiae; Anopheles funestus; Malaria; Mosquitoes; Attraction; Behaviour
13.  Enhancement of acetoin production in Candida glabrata by in silico-aided metabolic engineering 
Acetoin is a promising chemical compound that can potentially serve as a high value-added platform for a broad range of applications. Many industrial biotechnological processes are moving towards the use of yeast as a platform. The multi-auxotrophic yeast, Candida glabrata, can accumulate a large amount of pyruvate, but produces only trace amounts of acetoin. Here, we attempted to engineer C. glabrata to redirect the carbon flux of pyruvate to increase acetoin production.
Based on an in silico strategy, a synthetic, composite metabolic pathway involving two distinct enzymes, acetolactate synthase (ALS) and acetolactate decarboxylase (ALDC), was constructed, leading to the accumulation of acetoin in C. glabrata. Further genetic modifications were introduced to increase the carbon flux of the heterologous pathway, increasing the production of acetoin to 2.08 g/L. Additionally, nicotinic acid was employed to regulate the intracellular NADH level, and a higher production of acetoin (3.67 g/L) was obtained at the expense of 2,3-butanediol production under conditions of a lower NADH/NAD+ ratio.
With the aid of in silico metabolic engineering and cofactor engineering, C. glabrata was designed and constructed to improve acetoin production.
PMCID: PMC4021295  PMID: 24725668
Acetoin; Candida glabrata; Cofactor engineering; Heterologous pathway; In silico; Metabolic engineering
14.  Ca2+-Citrate Uptake and Metabolism in Lactobacillus casei ATCC 334 
Applied and Environmental Microbiology  2013;79(15):4603-4612.
The putative citrate metabolic pathway in Lactobacillus casei ATCC 334 consists of the transporter CitH, a proton symporter of the citrate-divalent metal ion family of transporters CitMHS, citrate lyase, and the membrane-bound oxaloacetate decarboxylase complex OAD-ABDH. Resting cells of Lactobacillus casei ATCC 334 metabolized citrate in complex with Ca2+ and not as free citrate or the Mg2+-citrate complex, thereby identifying Ca2+-citrate as the substrate of the transporter CitH. The pathway was induced in the presence of Ca2+ and citrate during growth and repressed by the presence of glucose and of galactose, most likely by a carbon catabolite repression mechanism. The end products of Ca2+-citrate metabolism by resting cells of Lb. casei were pyruvate, acetate, and acetoin, demonstrating the activity of the membrane-bound oxaloacetate decarboxylase complex OAD-ABDH. Following pyruvate, the pathway splits into two branches. One branch is the classical citrate fermentation pathway producing acetoin by α-acetolactate synthase and α-acetolactate decarboxylase. The other branch yields acetate, for which the route is still obscure. Ca2+-citrate metabolism in a modified MRS medium lacking a carbohydrate did not significantly affect the growth characteristics, and generation of metabolic energy in the form of proton motive force (PMF) was not observed in resting cells. In contrast, carbohydrate/Ca2+-citrate cometabolism resulted in a higher biomass yield in batch culture. However, also with these cells, no generation of PMF was associated with Ca2+-citrate metabolism. It is concluded that citrate metabolism in Lb. casei is beneficial when it counteracts acidification by carbohydrate metabolism in later growth stages.
PMCID: PMC3719530  PMID: 23709502
15.  Intracellular Carbon Fluxes in Riboflavin-Producing Bacillus subtilis during Growth on Two-Carbon Substrate Mixtures 
Metabolic responses to cofeeding of different carbon substrates in carbon-limited chemostat cultures were investigated with riboflavin-producing Bacillus subtilis. Relative to the carbon content (or energy content) of the substrates, the biomass yield was lower in all cofeeding experiments than with glucose alone. The riboflavin yield, in contrast, was significantly increased in the acetoin- and gluconate-cofed cultures. In these two scenarios, unusually high intracellular ATP-to-ADP ratios correlated with improved riboflavin yields. Nuclear magnetic resonance spectra recorded with amino acids obtained from biosynthetically directed fractional 13C labeling experiments were used in an isotope isomer balancing framework to estimate intracellular carbon fluxes. The glycolysis-to-pentose phosphate (PP) pathway split ratio was almost invariant at about 80% in all experiments, a result that was particularly surprising for the cosubstrate gluconate, which feeds directly into the PP pathway. The in vivo activities of the tricarboxylic acid cycle, in contrast, varied more than twofold. The malic enzyme was active with acetate, gluconate, or acetoin cofeeding but not with citrate cofeeding or with glucose alone. The in vivo activity of the gluconeogenic phosphoenolpyruvate carboxykinase was found to be relatively high in all experiments, with the sole exception of the gluconate-cofed culture.
PMCID: PMC123836  PMID: 11916694
16.  Improved Production of 2,3-Butanediol in Bacillus amyloliquefaciens by Over-Expression of Glyceraldehyde-3-Phosphate Dehydrogenase and 2,3-butanediol Dehydrogenase 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(10):e76149.
Previously, a safe strain, Bacillus amyloliquefaciens B10-127 was identified as an excellent candidate for industrial-scale microbial fermentation of 2,3-butanediol (2,3-BD). However, B. amyloliquefaciens fermentation yields large quantities of acetoin, lactate and succinate as by-products, and the 2,3-BD yield remains prohibitively low for commercial production.
Methodology/Principal Findings
In the 2,3-butanediol metabolic pathway, glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) catalyzes the conversion of 3-phosphate glyceraldehyde to 1,3-bisphosphoglycerate, with concomitant reduction of NAD+ to NADH. In the same pathway, 2,3-BD dehydrogenase (BDH) catalyzes the conversion of acetoin to 2,3-BD with concomitant oxidation of NADH to NAD+. In this study, to improve 2,3-BD production, we first over-produced NAD+-dependent GAPDH and NADH-dependent BDH in B. amyloliquefaciens. Excess GAPDH reduced the fermentation time, increased the 2,3-BD yield by 12.7%, and decreased the acetoin titer by 44.3%. However, the process also enhanced lactate and succinate production. Excess BDH increased the 2,3-BD yield by 16.6% while decreasing acetoin, lactate and succinate production, but prolonged the fermentation time. When BDH and GAPDH were co-overproduced in B. amyloliquefaciens, the fermentation time was reduced. Furthermore, in the NADH-dependent pathways, the molar yield of 2,3-BD was increased by 22.7%, while those of acetoin, lactate and succinate were reduced by 80.8%, 33.3% and 39.5%, relative to the parent strain. In fed-batch fermentations, the 2,3-BD concentration was maximized at 132.9 g/l after 45 h, with a productivity of 2.95 g/l·h.
Co-overexpression of bdh and gapA genes proved an effective method for enhancing 2,3-BD production and inhibiting the accumulation of unwanted by-products (acetoin, lactate and succinate). To our knowledge, we have attained the highest 2,3-BD fermentation yield thus far reported for safe microorganisms.
PMCID: PMC3788785  PMID: 24098433
17.  Biometric Study of Acetoin Production in Hanseniaspora guilliermondii and Kloeckera apiculata 
Gas chromatographic analysis by direct injection of samples yielded quantitative data on acetoin content. Ninety-six strains of Hanseniaspora guilliermondii and Kloeckera apiculata were investigated for the ability to produce acetoin in synthetic medium and in must. High-level production of acetoin was found to be a characteristic of both species. In synthetic medium, the two species were not significantly different with respect to sugar utilization and ethanol or acetoin production. In grape must, the two species were significantly different (P = 0.001) in acetoin production and K. apiculata exhibited a significantly negative correlation between acetoin production and either sugar consumption or ethanol production. Use of selected apiculate yeasts in mixed cultures with Saccharomyces cerevisiae seems promising for optimization of wine bouquet.
PMCID: PMC182169  PMID: 16348961
18.  Growth and end product formation of two psychrotrophic Lactobacillus spp. and Brochothrix thermosphacta ATCC 11509T at different pH values and temperatures. 
Lactobacillus viridescens, Lactobacillus sp. strain 173 (homofermentative), and Brochothrix thermosphacta ATCC 11509T were studied at different pH values and temperatures in aerobic and anaerobic batch cultures. The growth rates were higher in aerobic than in anaerobic cultures. L. viridescens grew faster at pH 5.8 than at pH 6.3, whereas the opposite was true for B. thermosphacta. Lactobacillus sp. strain 173 was inhibited in air or at 8 degrees C in anaerobic culture. B. thermosphacta did not grow in anaerobic culture at pH 5.3. The following variations in growth yields were found in the different environments studied: Lactobacillus sp. strain 173, 23 to 25 g (dry weight) per mol of glucose consumed; L. viridescens, 11 to 23 g/mol; B. thermosphacta, 16 to 38 g/mol. In air, L. viridescens produced D-lactic acid, ethanol, and acetic acid, whereas no acetic acid was produced anaerobically. Acetic acid and ethanol together constituted 41 to 48% of the total product yield irrespective of pH and temperature. Lactobacillus sp. strain 173 produced a racemic mixture of D- and L-lactic acid at pH 6.3, whereas the proportion of L-lactic acid was higher than that of D-lactic acid at pH 5.3. In air, product formation of B. thermosphacta varied from a domination of L-lactic acid to increasing yields of acetoin, acetic acid, 2,3-butanediol and isovaleric acid. The effect of pH and temperature on product formation was difficult to separate from the effect of O2 availability in aerobic cultures. However, it was indicated that more 2,3-butanediol and less acetoin were produced with a decreasing temperature.(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 250 WORDS)
PMCID: PMC239574  PMID: 6660874
19.  Glucose Degradation, Molar Growth Yields, and Evidence for Oxidative Phosphorylation in Streptococcus agalactiae 
Journal of Bacteriology  1972;109(1):96-105.
In a complex medium with the energy source as the limiting nutrient factor and under anaerobic growth conditions, Streptococcus agalactiae fermented 75% of the glucose to lactic acid and the remainder to acetic and formic acids and ethanol. By using the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) yield constant of 10.5, the molar growth yield suggested 2 moles of ATP per mole of glucose from substrate level phosphorylation. Under similar growth conditions, pyruvate was fermented 25% to lactic acid, and the remainder was fermented to acetic and formic acids. The molar growth yield suggested 0.75 mole of ATP per mole of pyruvate from substrate level phosphorylation. Under aerobic growth conditions about 1 mole of oxygen was consumed per mole of glucose; about one-third of the glucose was converted to lactic acid and the remainder to acetic acid, acetoin, and carbon dioxide. Molar growth yields indicated 5 moles of ATP per mole of glucose. Estimates based on products of glucose degradation suggested that about one-half of the ATP was derived from substrate level phosphorylation and one-half from oxidative phosphorylation. Addition of 0.5 m 2,4-dinitrophenol reduced the growth yield to that occurring in the absence of oxygen. Aerobic pyruvate degradation resulted in 30% of the substrate becoming reduced to lactic acid and the remainder being converted to acetic acid and carbon dioxide, with small amounts of formic acid and acetoin. The molar growth yields and products found suggested that 0.70 mole of ATP per mole of pyruvate resulted from substrate level phosphorylation and 0.4 mole per mole of pyruvate resulted from oxidative phosphorylation.
PMCID: PMC247256  PMID: 4550679
20.  Efficient Whole-Cell Biocatalyst for Acetoin Production with NAD+ Regeneration System through Homologous Co-Expression of 2,3-Butanediol Dehydrogenase and NADH Oxidase in Engineered Bacillus subtilis 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(7):e102951.
Acetoin (3-hydroxy-2-butanone), an extensively-used food spice and bio-based platform chemical, is usually produced by chemical synthesis methods. With increasingly requirement of food security and environmental protection, bio-fermentation of acetoin by microorganisms has a great promising market. However, through metabolic engineering strategies, the mixed acid-butanediol fermentation metabolizes a certain portion of substrate to the by-products of organic acids such as lactic acid and acetic acid, which causes energy cost and increases the difficulty of product purification in downstream processes. In this work, due to the high efficiency of enzymatic reaction and excellent selectivity, a strategy for efficiently converting 2,3-butandiol to acetoin using whole-cell biocatalyst by engineered Bacillus subtilis is proposed. In this process, NAD+ plays a significant role on 2,3-butanediol and acetoin distribution, so the NADH oxidase and 2,3-butanediol dehydrogenase both from B. subtilis are co-expressed in B. subtilis 168 to construct an NAD+ regeneration system, which forces dramatic decrease of the intracellular NADH concentration (1.6 fold) and NADH/NAD+ ratio (2.2 fold). By optimization of the enzymatic reaction and applying repeated batch conversion, the whole-cell biocatalyst efficiently produced 91.8 g/L acetoin with a productivity of 2.30 g/(L·h), which was the highest record ever reported by biocatalysis. This work indicated that manipulation of the intracellular cofactor levels was more effective than the strategy of enhancing enzyme activity, and the bioprocess for NAD+ regeneration may also be a useful way for improving the productivity of NAD+-dependent chemistry-based products.
PMCID: PMC4103878  PMID: 25036158
21.  Properties of 2,3-Butanediol Dehydrogenases from Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis in Relation to Citrate Fermentation 
Two 2,3-butanediol dehydrogenases (enzymes 1 and 2; molecular weight of each, 170,000) have been partially purified from Lactococcus lactis subsp. lactis (Streptococcus diacetylactis) D10 and shown to have reductase activity with either diacetyl or acetoin as the substrate. However, the reductase activity with 10 mM diacetyl was far greater for both enzymes (7.0- and 4.7-fold for enzymes 1 and 2, respectively) than with 10 mM acetoin as the substrate. In contrast, when acetoin and diacetyl were present together, acetoin was the preferred substrate for both enzymes, with enzyme 1 showing the more marked preference for acetoin. meso-2,3-Butanediol was the only isomeric product, with enzyme 1 independent of the substrate combinations. For enzyme 2, both the meso and optical isomers of 2,3-butanediol were formed with acetoin as the substrate, but only the optical isomers were produced with diacetyl as the substrate. With batch cultures of strain D10 at or near the point of citrate exhaustion, the main isomers of 2,3-butanediol present were the optical forms. If the pH was sufficiently high (>pH 5), acetoin reduction occurred over time and was followed by diacetyl reduction, and meso-2,3-butanediol became the predominant isomer. Interconversion of the optical isomers into the meso isomer did occur. The properties of 2,3-butanediol dehydrogenases are consistent with diacetyl and acetoin removal and the appearance of the isomers of 2,3-butanediol.
PMCID: PMC184489  PMID: 16348209
22.  Carbohydrate fermentation by gut microflora in preterm neonates. 
Archives of Disease in Childhood  1989;64(10 Spec No):1367-1373.
To study organic acid excretion, urine was collected from 52 preterm infants at weekly intervals and analysed by capillary gas chromatography-mass spectrometry. Twelve of 22 babies born before 33 weeks' gestation excreted 2,3-butanediol, as did six born between 33 and 36 weeks. Six very immature babies also excreted acetoin, the metabolic precursor of the diol. Other products derived from carbohydrate included methylmalonic and ethylmalonic acids in one baby, and D-lactic acid in five. Acetoin has never been found in urine before, and the other four acids have been found only rarely. Excretion of these metabolites by preterm babies can be explained by increased intestinal permeability, unabsorbed lactose in the colon, and colonisation with certain opportunistic micro-organisms prevalent in neonatal units, including klebsiella, serratia, and enterobacter. The findings support evidence from breath hydrogen analysis that carbohydrate fermentation takes place in the gut of preterm infants.
PMCID: PMC1590111  PMID: 2589871
23.  An Operon for a Putative ATP-Binding Cassette Transport System Involved in Acetoin Utilization of Bacillus subtilis 
Journal of Bacteriology  2000;182(19):5454-5461.
The ytrABCDEF operon of Bacillus subtilis was deduced to encode a putative ATP-binding cassette (ABC) transport system. YtrB and YtrE could be the ABC subunits, and YtrC and YtrD are highly hydrophobic and could form a channel through the cell membrane, while YtrF could be a periplasmic lipoprotein for substrate binding. Expression of the operon was examined in cells grown in a minimal medium. The results indicate that the expression was induced only early in the stationary phase. The six ytr genes form a single operon, transcribed from a putative ςA-dependent promoter present upstream of ytrA. YtrA, which possesses a helix-turn-helix motif of the GntR family, acts probably as a repressor and regulates its own transcription. Inactivation of the operon led to a decrease in maximum cell yield and less-efficient sporulation, suggesting its involvement in the growth in stationary phase and sporulation. It is known that B. subtilis produces acetoin as an external carbon storage compound and then reuses it later during stationary phase and sporulation. When either the entire ytr operon or its last gene, ytrF, was inactivated, the production of acetoin was not affected, but the reuse of acetoin became less efficient. We suggest that the Ytr transport system plays a role in acetoin utilization during stationary phase and sporulation.
PMCID: PMC110989  PMID: 10986249
24.  Acetoin Catabolism and Acetylbutanediol Formation by Bacillus pumilus in a Chemically Defined Medium 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(5):e5627.
Most low molecular diols are highly water-soluble, hygroscopic, and reactive with many organic compounds. In the past decades, microbial research to produce diols, e.g. 1,3-propanediol and 2,3-butanediol, were considerably expanded due to their versatile usages especially in polymer synthesis and as possible alternatives to fossil based feedstocks from the bioconversion of renewable natural resources. This study aimed to provide a new way for bacterial production of an acetylated diol, i.e. acetylbutanediol (ABD, 3,4-dihydroxy-3-methylpentan-2-one), by acetoin metabolism.
Methodology/Principal Findings
When Bacillus pumilus ATCC 14884 was aerobically cultured in a chemically defined medium with acetoin as the sole carbon and energy source, ABD was produced and identified by gas chromatography – chemical ionization mass spectrometry and NMR spectroscopy.
Although the key enzyme leading to ABD from acetoin has not been identified yet at this stage, this study proposed a new metabolic pathawy to produce ABD in vivo from using renewable resources – in this case acetoin, which could be reproduced from glucose in this study – making it the first facility in the world to prepare this new bio-based diol product.
PMCID: PMC2680964  PMID: 19461961
25.  Enterobacter asburiae sp. nov., a new species found in clinical specimens, and reassignment of Erwinia dissolvens and Erwinia nimipressuralis to the genus Enterobacter as Enterobacter dissolvens comb. nov. and Enterobacter nimipressuralis comb. nov. 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  1986;23(6):1114-1120.
Enterobacter asburiae sp. nov. is a new species that was formerly referred to as Enteric Group 17 and that consists of 71 strains, 70 of which were isolated from humans. Enterobacter asburiae sp. nov. strains gave positive reactions in tests for methyl red, citrate utilization (Simmons and Christensen's), urea hydrolysis, L-ornithine decarboxylase, growth in KCN, acid and gas production from D-glucose, and acid production from L-arabinose, cellobiose, glycerol (negative in 1 to 2 days, positive in 3 to 7 days), lactose, D-mannitol, alpha-methyl-D-glucoside, salicin, D-sorbitol, sucrose, trehalose, and D-xylose. They gave negative reactions in the Voges-Proskauer test and in tests for indole, H2S production, phenylalanine, L-lysine decarboxylase, motility, gelatin, utilization of malonate, lipase, DNase, tyrosine clearing, acid production from adonitol, D-arabitol, dulcitol, erythritol, i(myo)-inositol, melibiose, and L-rhamnose. They gave variable reactions in tests for L-arginine dihydrolase (25% positive after 2 days) and acid production from raffinose (69% positive after 2 days). Thirty-four Enterobacter asburiae sp. nov. strains were tested for DNA relatedness by the hydroxyapatite method with 32PO4-labeled DNA from the designated type strain (1497-78, ATCC 35953). The strains were 69 to 100% related in 60 degrees C reactions and 63 to 100% related in 75 degrees C reactions. Divergence within related sequences was 0 to 2.5%. Relatedness of Enterobacter asburiae sp. nov. to 84 strains of members of the Enterobacteriaceae was 5 to 63%, with closest relatedness to strains of Enterobacter cloacae, Erwinia dissolvens, Enterobacter taylorae, Enterobacter agglomerans, Erwinia nimipressuralis, and Enterobacter gergoviae. All strains tested were susceptible to gentamicin and sulfdiazine, and most were susceptible to chloramphenicol, colistin, kanamycin, nalidixic acid, carbenicillin and streptomycin. All strains were resistant to ampicillan, cephalothin, and penicillin, and most were resistant or moderately resistant to tetracycline. Enterobacter asburiae sp. nov strains were isolated from a variety of human sources, most prevalent of which were urine (16 strains), respiratory sources (15 strains), stools (12 strains), wounds (11 strains), and blood (7 strains). The clinical significance of Enterobacter aburiae is not known. As a result of this and previous studies, proposals are made to transfer Erwinia dissolvens and Erwinia nimipressuralis to the genus Enterobacter as Enterobacter dissolvens comb. nov. and Enterobacter nimipressuralis comb. nov., respectively.
PMCID: PMC268805  PMID: 3711302

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