Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology

, Volume 40, Issue 12, pp 1461–1475 | Cite as

Directed pathway evolution of the glyoxylate shunt in Escherichia coli for improved aerobic succinate production from glycerol

  • Ning Li
  • Bo Zhang
  • Tao ChenEmail author
  • Zhiwen Wang
  • Ya-jie Tang
  • Xueming Zhao
Metabolic Engineering and Synthetic Biology


α-Ketoglutarate is accumulated as the main byproduct during the aerobic succinate production from glycerol by Escherichia coli BL21(DE3) in minimal medium. To address this issue, here a strategy of directed pathway evolution was developed to enhance the alternative succinate production route—the glyoxylate shunt. Via the directed pathway evolution, the glyoxylate shunt was recruited as the primary anaplerotic pathway in a ppc mutant, which restored its viability in glycerol minimal medium. Subsequently, the operon sdhCDAB was deleted and the gene ppc was reverted in the evolved strain for succinate production. The resulting strain E2-Δsdh-ppc produced 30 % more succinate and 46 % less α-ketoglutarate than the control strain. A G583T mutation in gene icdA, which significantly decreased the activity of isocitrate dehydrogenase, was identified in the evolved strain as the main mutation responsible for the observed phenotype. Overexpression of α-ketoglutarate dehydrogenase complex in E2-Δsdh-ppc further reduced the amount of byproduct and improved succinate production. The final strain E2-Δsdh-ppc-sucAB produced 366 mM succinate from 1.3 M glycerol in minimal medium in fed-batch fermentation. The maximum and average succinate volumetric productivities were 19.2 and 6.55 mM h−1, respectively, exhibiting potential industrial production capacity from the low-priced substrate.


Escherichia coli Glycerol Succinate Glyoxylate shunt Isocitrate dehydrogenase 



This work was supported by National 973 Project (2011CBA00804, 2012CB725203), National Natural Science Foundation of China (NSFC-21176182, NSFC-21206112) and National High-tech R&D Program of China (2012AA02A702, 2012AA022103).


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Copyright information

© Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ning Li
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bo Zhang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Tao Chen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Zhiwen Wang
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ya-jie Tang
    • 3
  • Xueming Zhao
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Key Laboratory of Systems Bioengineering, Ministry of EducationTianjin UniversityTianjinPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Department of Biochemical Engineering, School of Chemical Engineering and TechnologyTianjin UniversityTianjinPeople’s Republic of China
  3. 3.Key Laboratory of Fermentation Engineering, Ministry of EducationHubei University of TechnologyWuhanPeople’s Republic of China

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