Cascaded valorization of brown seaweed to produce l-lysine and value-added products using Corynebacterium glutamicum streamlined by systems metabolic engineering

Metab Eng. 2021 Sep;67:293-307. doi: 10.1016/j.ymben.2021.07.010. Epub 2021 Jul 24.


Seaweeds emerge as promising third-generation renewable for sustainable bioproduction. In the present work, we valorized brown seaweed to produce l-lysine, the world's leading feed amino acid, using Corynebacterium glutamicum, which was streamlined by systems metabolic engineering. The mutant C. glutamicum SEA-1 served as a starting point for development because it produced small amounts of l-lysine from mannitol, a major seaweed sugar, because of the deletion of its arabitol repressor AtlR and its engineered l-lysine pathway. Starting from SEA-1, we systematically optimized the microbe to redirect excess NADH, formed on the sugar alcohol, towards NADPH, required for l-lysine synthesis. The mannitol dehydrogenase variant MtlD D75A, inspired by 3D protein homology modelling, partly generated NADPH during the oxidation of mannitol to fructose, leading to a 70% increased l-lysine yield in strain SEA-2C. Several rounds of strain engineering further increased NADPH supply and l-lysine production. The best strain, SEA-7, overexpressed the membrane-bound transhydrogenase pntAB together with codon-optimized gapN, encoding NADPH-dependent glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase, and mak, encoding fructokinase. In a fed-batch process, SEA-7 produced 76 g L-1l-lysine from mannitol at a yield of 0.26 mol mol-1 and a maximum productivity of 2.1 g L-1 h-1. Finally, SEA-7 was integrated into seaweed valorization cascades. Aqua-cultured Laminaria digitata, a major seaweed for commercial alginate, was extracted and hydrolyzed enzymatically, followed by recovery and clean-up of pure alginate gum. The residual sugar-based mixture was converted to l-lysine at a yield of 0.27 C-mol C-mol-1 using SEA-7. Second, stems of the wild-harvested seaweed Durvillaea antarctica, obtained as waste during commercial processing of the blades for human consumption, were extracted using acid treatment. Fermentation of the hydrolysate using SEA-7 provided l-lysine at a yield of 0.40 C-mol C-mol-1. Our findings enable improvement of the efficiency of seaweed biorefineries using tailor-made C. glutamicum strains.

Keywords: Fructokinase; Fructose; Glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate dehydrogenase; L-lysine; Macro algae; Mannitol 2-dehydrogenase; NADH; NADPH; Oxidative pentose phosphate pathway; Protein engineering; Redox balancing; Seaweed; Transhydrogenase.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Corynebacterium glutamicum* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lysine / genetics
  • Metabolic Engineering
  • NADP
  • Seaweed*


  • NADP
  • Lysine