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Open Access Research article

Production of medium-chain-length polyhydroxyalkanoates by sequential feeding of xylose and octanoic acid in engineered Pseudomonas putida KT2440

Sylvaine Le Meur1, Manfred Zinn12, Thomas Egli3, Linda Thöny-Meyer1 and Qun Ren1*

Author Affiliations

1 Laboratory for Biomaterials, Swiss Federal Laboratories for Materials Science and Technology (Empa), Lerchenfeldstrasse 5, St. Gallen, CH-9014, Switzerland

2 Biotechnology, HES-SO Valais Wallis, Rue du Rawyl 64, P.O.B. 2134, Sion, CH-1950, Switzerland

3 Environmental Microbiology, Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology (Eawag), Überlandstrasse 133, P.O. Box 610, Dübendorf, CH-8600, Switzerland

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BMC Biotechnology 2012, 12:53  doi:10.1186/1472-6750-12-53

Published: 22 August 2012

Abstract

Background

Pseudomonas putida KT2440 is able to synthesize large amounts of medium-chain-length polyhydroxyalkanoates (mcl-PHAs). To reduce the substrate cost, which represents nearly 50% of the total PHA production cost, xylose, a hemicellulose derivate, was tested as the growth carbon source in an engineered P. putida KT2440 strain.

Results

The genes encoding xylose isomerase (XylA) and xylulokinase (XylB) from Escherichia coli W3110 were introduced into P. putida KT2440. The recombinant KT2440 exhibited a XylA activity of 1.47 U and a XylB activity of 0.97 U when grown on a defined medium supplemented with xylose. The cells reached a maximum specific growth rate of 0.24 h-1 and a final cell dry weight (CDW) of 2.5 g L-1 with a maximal yield of 0.5 g CDW g-1 xylose. Since no mcl-PHA was accumulated from xylose, mcl-PHA production can be controlled by the addition of fatty acids leading to tailor-made PHA compositions. Sequential feeding strategy was applied using xylose as the growth substrate and octanoic acid as the precursor for mcl-PHA production. In this way, up to 20% w w-1 of mcl-PHA was obtained. A yield of 0.37 g mcl-PHA per g octanoic acid was achieved under the employed conditions.

Conclusions

Sequential feeding of relatively cheap carbohydrates and expensive fatty acids is a practical way to achieve more cost-effective mcl-PHA production. This study is the first reported attempt to produce mcl-PHA by using xylose as the growth substrate. Further process optimizations to achieve higher cell density and higher productivity of mcl-PHA should be investigated. These scientific exercises will undoubtedly contribute to the economic feasibility of mcl-PHA production from renewable feedstock.

Keywords:
mcl-PHA; Xylose; Octanoic acid; Pseudomonas putida KT2440; Sequential-feeding; Tailor-made PHA