Breaking down lignin to high-value chemicals: the conversion of lignocellulose to vanillin in a gene deletion mutant of Rhodococcus jostii RHA1

ACS Chem Biol. 2013 Oct 18;8(10):2151-6. doi: 10.1021/cb400505a. Epub 2013 Aug 8.


The aromatic polymer lignin represents a possible renewable source of aromatic chemicals, if biocatalytic routes for lignin breakdown can be developed. The availability of a genome sequence for Rhodococcus jostii RHA1, a bacterium that breaks down lignin, has allowed the application of a targeted pathway engineering strategy to lignin breakdown to produce vanillin, a valuable food/flavor chemical. A gene deletion strain of R. jostii RHA1 in which the vanillin dehydrogenase gene had been deleted, when grown on minimal medium containing 2.5% wheat straw lignocellulose and 0.05% glucose, was found to accumulate vanillin with yields of up to 96 mg/L after 144 h, together with smaller amounts of ferulic acid and 4-hydroxybenzaldehyde.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Benzaldehydes / chemistry*
  • Lignin / chemistry*
  • Lignin / metabolism
  • Molecular Structure
  • Rhodococcus / genetics*
  • Sequence Deletion / genetics


  • Benzaldehydes
  • lignocellulose
  • Lignin
  • vanillin