Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 100, Issue 8, pp 3511–3521 | Cite as

Identification and characterization of the vanillin dehydrogenase YfmT in Bacillus subtilis 3NA

  • Nadja Graf
  • Marian Wenzel
  • Josef AltenbuchnerEmail author
Biotechnological products and process engineering


With vanillin as one of the most important flavoring agents, many efforts have been made to optimize its biotechnological production from natural abundant substrates. However, its toxicity against the hosts results in rather low yields and product concentrations. Bacillus subtilis as a soil-dwelling bacterium is a possible lignin-derived compound-degrading microorganism. Therefore, its vanillin and ferulic acid metabolism was investigated. With a rather high tolerance for vanillin up to 20 mM, it is a promising candidate to produce natural vanillin. In this study, the well-studied phenolic acid decarboxylases PadC and BsdBCD could be ascribed to function as the only enzymes in B. subtilis 3NA converting ferulic acid to 4-vinylguaiacol and vanillic acid to guaiacol, respectively. As vanillin also becomes converted to guaiacol, a previous conversion to vanillic acid was assumed. Usage of bioinformatic tools revealed YfmT, which could be shown to function as the only vanillin dehydrogenase in B. subtilis 3NA. Thus, YfmT was further characterized regarding its temperature and pH optima as well as its substrate range. Vanillin and ferulic acid metabolic routes in the tested B. subtilis strain were revealed, a direct conversion of ferulic acid to vanillin, however, could not be found.


Biotransformation Bacillus subtilis Vanillin Ferulic acid Genetic engineering Dehydrogenase 



We would like to thank Dr. Juergen Wiegel (distinguished research professor emeritus, University of Georgia, USA) for helpful information and hints on the phenolic acid decarboxylase BsdBCD.

Compliance with ethical standards

The authors assure and declare that the research was not funded, and they have no competing interests (financial or non-financial). Furthermore, no human participants were involved, and no animals were harmed or killed during this study.


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Industrial GeneticsUniversity of StuttgartStuttgartGermany

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