Biotechnological production of itaconic acid and its biosynthesis in Aspergillus terreus

Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2009 Sep;84(4):597-606. doi: 10.1007/s00253-009-2132-3. Epub 2009 Jul 21.


More than 80,000 tons of itaconic acid (IA) is produced worldwide each year and is sold at a price of around US$ 2/kg. The IA production yield from sugar is higher than 80 g/l. The widespread use of IA in synthetic resins, synthetic fibers, plastics, rubbers, surfactants, and oil additives has resulted in an increased demand for this product. However, at present, the IA production capacity exceeds the demand because this product has a restricted range of applications. Studies have been actively conducted in different biomedical fields--dental, ophthalmic, and drug delivery--to extend the range of applications of IA. Recently, many researchers have attempted to replace the carbon source used for microbial production of IA with cheaper alternative substrates. However, there is still a need for new biotechnology innovations that would help to reduce the production costs, such as innovative process development and strain improvement to allow the use of a low-quality carbon source. In this short review, we discuss the following aspects of IA production: strain improvement, process development, identification of the key enzyme cis-aconitic acid decarboxylase (CAD) in the IA metabolic pathway, metabolic importance of CAD, and new applications of IA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aspergillus / genetics
  • Aspergillus / metabolism*
  • Biosynthetic Pathways / genetics*
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Succinates / metabolism*


  • Succinates
  • itaconic acid