Microbial engineering strategies to improve cell viability for biochemical production

Biotechnol Adv. 2013 Nov;31(6):903-14. doi: 10.1016/j.biotechadv.2013.02.001. Epub 2013 Feb 10.


Efficient production of biochemicals using engineered microbes as whole-cell biocatalysts requires robust cell viability. Robust viability leads to high productivity and improved bioprocesses by allowing repeated cell recycling. However, cell viability is negatively affected by a plethora of stresses, namely chemical toxicity and metabolic imbalances, primarily resulting from bio-synthesis pathways. Chemical toxicity is caused by substrates, intermediates, products, and/or by-products, and these compounds often interfere with important metabolic processes and damage cellular infrastructures such as cell membrane, leading to poor cell viability. Further, stresses on engineered cells are accentuated by metabolic imbalances, which are generated by heavy metabolic resource consumption due to enzyme overexpression, redistribution of metabolic fluxes, and impaired intracellular redox state by co-factor imbalance. To address these challenges, herein, we discuss a range of key microbial engineering strategies, substantiated by recent advances, to improve cell viability for commercially sustainable production of biochemicals from renewable resources.

Keywords: Bio-catalyst; Growth rates; Metabolic engineering; Microbial production; Productivity; Synthetic biology; Viability.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biofuels*
  • Cell Membrane / genetics
  • Cell Membrane / metabolism
  • Cell Survival / genetics*
  • Escherichia coli / genetics
  • Escherichia coli / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Engineering*


  • Biofuels