Production of optically pure D-lactic acid in mineral salts medium by metabolically engineered Escherichia coli W3110.

Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Shengde ZhouL O Ingram


The resistance of polylactide to biodegradation and the physical properties of this polymer can be controlled by adjusting the ratio of L-lactic acid to D-lactic acid. Although the largest demand is for the L enantiomer, substantial amounts of both enantiomers are required for bioplastics. We constructed derivatives of Escherichia coli W3110 (prototrophic) as new biocatalysts for the production of D-lactic acid. These strains (SZ40, SZ58, and SZ63) require only mineral salts as nutrients and lack all plasmids and antibiotic resistance genes used during construction. D-Lactic acid production by these new strains approached the theoretical maximum yield of two molecules per glucose molecule. The chemical purity of this D-lactic acid was approximately 98% with respect to soluble organic compounds. The optical purity exceeded 99%. Competing pathways were eliminated by chromosomal inactivation of genes encoding fumarate reductase (frdABCD), alcohol/aldehyde dehydrogenase (adhE), and pyruvate formate lyase (pflB). The cell yield and lactate productivity were increased by a further mutation in the acetate kinase gene (ackA). Similar improvements could be achieved by addition of 10 mM acetate or by an initial period of aeration. All th...Continue Reading


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