Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 100, Issue 4, pp 1799–1809 | Cite as

Enhanced succinic acid production in Aspergillus saccharolyticus by heterologous expression of fumarate reductase from Trypanosoma brucei

  • Lei Yang
  • Mette Lübeck
  • Birgitte K. Ahring
  • Peter S. Lübeck
Applied genetics and molecular biotechnology


Aspergillus saccharolyticus exhibits great potential as a cell factory for industrial production of dicarboxylic acids. In the analysis of the organic acid profile, A. saccharolyticus was cultivated in an acid production medium using two different pH conditions. The specific activities of the enzymes, pyruvate carboxylase (PYC), malate dehydrogenase (MDH), and fumarase (FUM), involved in the reductive tricarboxylic acid (rTCA) branch, were examined and compared in cells harvested from the acid production medium and a complete medium. The results showed that ambient pH had a significant impact on the pattern and the amount of organic acids produced by A. saccharolyticus. The wild-type strain produced higher amount of malic acid and succinic acid in the pH buffered condition (pH 6.5) compared with the pH non-buffered condition. The enzyme assays showed that the rTCA branch was active in the acid production medium as well as the complete medium, but the measured enzyme activities were different depending on the media. Furthermore, a soluble NADH-dependent fumarate reductase gene (frd) from Trypanosoma brucei was inserted and expressed in A. saccharolyticus. The expression of the frd gene led to an enhanced production of succinic acid in frd transformants compared with the wild-type in both pH buffered and pH non-buffered conditions with highest amount produced in the pH buffered condition (16.2 ± 0.5 g/L). This study demonstrates the feasibility of increasing succinic acid production through the cytosolic reductive pathway by genetic engineering in A. saccharolyticus.


Succinic acid Aspergillus saccharolyticus Genetic engineering Malic acid Fumarate reductase 



Financial support from SUPRA-BIO EU grant 241640-2 and BIOREF DSF grant 09-065165 is greatly acknowledged. We thank Prof. Israel Goldberg for providing the recipe of acid production medium and cultivation conditions.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical approval

This study does not contain any experiment with human participants or animals performed by any of the authors.

Supplementary material

253_2015_7086_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (124 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 124 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lei Yang
    • 1
  • Mette Lübeck
    • 1
  • Birgitte K. Ahring
    • 1
    • 2
  • Peter S. Lübeck
    • 1
  1. 1.Section for Sustainable Biotechnology, Department of Chemistry and BioscienceAalborg University CopenhagenCopenhagen SVDenmark
  2. 2.Bioproducts, Sciences & Engineering Laboratory (BSEL)Washington State UniversityRichlandUSA

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