Applied Genetics and Molecular Biotechnology

Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 88, Issue 1, pp 199-208

First online:

Metabolic engineering to improve ethanol production in Thermoanaerobacter mathranii

  • Shuo YaoAffiliated withBioScience and Technology Group, BioCentrum, Technical University of DenmarkBiosystems Department, Risø National Laboratory for Sustainable Energy, Technical University of Denmark Email author 
  • , Marie Just MikkelsenAffiliated withBioGasol ApS

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Thermoanaerobacter mathranii can produce ethanol from lignocellulosic biomass at high temperatures, but its biotechnological exploitation will require metabolic engineering to increase its ethanol yield. With a cofactor-dependent ethanol production pathway in T. mathranii, it may become crucial to regenerate cofactor to increase the ethanol yield. Feeding the cells with a more reduced carbon source, such as mannitol, was shown to increase ethanol yield beyond that obtained with glucose and xylose. The ldh gene coding for lactate dehydrogenase was previously deleted from T. mathranii to eliminate an NADH oxidation pathway. To further facilitate NADH regeneration used for ethanol formation, a heterologous gene gldA encoding an NAD+-dependent glycerol dehydrogenase was expressed in T. mathranii. One of the resulting recombinant strains, T. mathranii BG1G1 (Δldh, P xyl GldA), showed increased ethanol yield in the presence of glycerol using xylose as a substrate. With an inactivated lactate pathway and expressed glycerol dehydrogenase activity, the metabolism of the cells was shifted toward the production of ethanol over acetate, hence restoring the redox balance. It was also shown that strain BG1G1 acquired the capability to utilize glycerol as an extra carbon source in the presence of xylose, and utilization of the more reduced substrate glycerol resulted in a higher ethanol yield.


Metabolic engineering Ethanol production Thermoanaerobacter Glycerol dehydrogenase Lactate dehydrogenase