Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 69, Issue 1, pp 1-8

First online:

Biotechnological production of amino acids and derivatives: current status and prospects

  • Wolfgang LeuchtenbergerAffiliated withDegussa-Stiftung Email author 
  • , Klaus HuthmacherAffiliated withDegussa AG
  • , Karlheinz DrauzAffiliated withDegussa AG

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For almost 50 years now, biotechnological production processes have been used for industrial production of amino acids. Market development has been particularly dynamic for the flavor-enhancer glutamate and the animal feed amino acids l-lysine, l-threonine, and l-tryptophan, which are produced by fermentation processes using high-performance strains of Corynebacterium glutamicum and Escherichia coli from sugar sources such as molasses, sucrose, or glucose. But the market for amino acids in synthesis is also becoming increasingly important, with annual growth rates of 5–7%. The use of enzymes and whole cell biocatalysts has proven particularly valuable in production of both proteinogenic and nonproteinogenic l-amino acids, d-amino acids, and enantiomerically pure amino acid derivatives, which are of great interest as building blocks for active ingredients that are applied as pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, and agricultural products. Nutrition and health will continue to be the driving forces for exploiting the potential of microorganisms, and possibly also of suitable plants, to arrive at even more efficient processes for amino acid production.