Coproduction of acetaldehyde and hydrogen during glucose fermentation by Escherichia coli

Appl Environ Microbiol. 2011 Sep;77(18):6441-50. doi: 10.1128/AEM.05358-11. Epub 2011 Jul 29.


Escherichia coli K-12 strain MG1655 was engineered to coproduce acetaldehyde and hydrogen during glucose fermentation by the use of exogenous acetyl-coenzyme A (acetyl-CoA) reductase (for the conversion of acetyl-CoA to acetaldehyde) and the native formate hydrogen lyase. A putative acetaldehyde dehydrogenase/acetyl-CoA reductase from Salmonella enterica (SeEutE) was cloned, produced at high levels, and purified by nickel affinity chromatography. In vitro assays showed that this enzyme had both acetaldehyde dehydrogenase activity (68.07 ± 1.63 μmol min(-1) mg(-1)) and the desired acetyl-CoA reductase activity (49.23 ± 2.88 μmol min(-1) mg(-1)). The eutE gene was engineered into an E. coli mutant lacking native glucose fermentation pathways (ΔadhE, ΔackA-pta, ΔldhA, and ΔfrdC). The engineered strain (ZH88) produced 4.91 ± 0.29 mM acetaldehyde while consuming 11.05 mM glucose but also produced 6.44 ± 0.26 mM ethanol. Studies showed that ethanol was produced by an unknown alcohol dehydrogenase(s) that converted the acetaldehyde produced by SeEutE to ethanol. Allyl alcohol was used to select for mutants with reduced alcohol dehydrogenase activity. Three allyl alcohol-resistant mutants were isolated; all produced more acetaldehyde and less ethanol than ZH88. It was also found that modifying the growth medium by adding 1 g of yeast extract/liter and lowering the pH to 6.0 further increased the coproduction of acetaldehyde and hydrogen. Under optimal conditions, strain ZH136 converted glucose to acetaldehyde and hydrogen in a 1:1 ratio with a specific acetaldehyde production rate of 0.68 ± 0.20 g h(-1) g(-1) dry cell weight and at 86% of the maximum theoretical yield. This specific production rate is the highest reported thus far and is promising for industrial application. The possibility of a more efficient "no-distill" ethanol fermentation procedure based on the coproduction of acetaldehyde and hydrogen is discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acetaldehyde / metabolism*
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / genetics
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase / metabolism
  • Aldehyde Oxidoreductases / genetics
  • Aldehyde Oxidoreductases / metabolism
  • Escherichia coli K12 / enzymology
  • Escherichia coli K12 / genetics
  • Escherichia coli K12 / metabolism*
  • Ethanol / metabolism
  • Fermentation*
  • Formate Dehydrogenases
  • Gene Deletion
  • Genetic Engineering
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Hydrogen / metabolism*
  • Hydrogenase
  • Lyases / genetics
  • Lyases / metabolism
  • Metabolic Networks and Pathways
  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Salmonella enterica / enzymology
  • Salmonella enterica / genetics


  • Multienzyme Complexes
  • Ethanol
  • Hydrogen
  • Alcohol Dehydrogenase
  • Hydrogenase
  • Formate Dehydrogenases
  • formate hydrogenlyase
  • Aldehyde Oxidoreductases
  • acetaldehyde dehydrogenase (acylating)
  • aldehyde dehydrogenase (NAD(P)+)
  • Lyases
  • Acetaldehyde
  • Glucose