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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Genome-wide dynamic transcriptional profiling in clostridium beijerinckii NCIMB 8052 using single-nucleotide resolution RNA-Seq

Yi Wang12, Xiangzhen Li34, Yuejian Mao3 and Hans P Blaschek256*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

2 Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

3 Department of Animal Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

4 Chengdu Institute of Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chengdu Sichuan 610041, China

5 Department of Food Science and Human Nutrition, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

6 Center for Advanced Bioenergy Research (CABER), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Urbana, IL 61801, USA

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BMC Genomics 2012, 13:102  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-102

Published: 20 March 2012



Clostridium beijerinckii is a prominent solvent-producing microbe that has great potential for biofuel and chemical industries. Although transcriptional analysis is essential to understand gene functions and regulation and thus elucidate proper strategies for further strain improvement, limited information is available on the genome-wide transcriptional analysis for C. beijerinckii.


The genome-wide transcriptional dynamics of C. beijerinckii NCIMB 8052 over a batch fermentation process was investigated using high-throughput RNA-Seq technology. The gene expression profiles indicated that the glycolysis genes were highly expressed throughout the fermentation, with comparatively more active expression during acidogenesis phase. The expression of acid formation genes was down-regulated at the onset of solvent formation, in accordance with the metabolic pathway shift from acidogenesis to solventogenesis. The acetone formation gene (adc), as a part of the sol operon, exhibited highly-coordinated expression with the other sol genes. Out of the > 20 genes encoding alcohol dehydrogenase in C. beijerinckii, Cbei_1722 and Cbei_2181 were highly up-regulated at the onset of solventogenesis, corresponding to their key roles in primary alcohol production. Most sporulation genes in C. beijerinckii 8052 demonstrated similar temporal expression patterns to those observed in B. subtilis and C. acetobutylicum, while sporulation sigma factor genes sigE and sigG exhibited accelerated and stronger expression in C. beijerinckii 8052, which is consistent with the more rapid forespore and endspore development in this strain. Global expression patterns for specific gene functional classes were examined using self-organizing map analysis. The genes associated with specific functional classes demonstrated global expression profiles corresponding to the cell physiological variation and metabolic pathway switch.


The results from this work provided insights for further C. beijerinckii strain improvement employing system biology-based strategies and metabolic engineering approaches.