Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 102, Issue 7, pp 2965–2976 | Cite as

Biotechnical production of trehalose through the trehalose synthase pathway: current status and future prospects



Trehalose (α-d-glucopyranosyl-(1 → 1)-α-d-glucopyranoside) is a non-reducing disaccharide composed of two glucose molecules linked by an α,α-1,1-glycosidic bond. It possesses physicochemical properties, which account for its biological roles in a variety of prokaryotic and eukaryotic organisms and invertebrates. Intensive studies of trehalose gradually uncovered its functions, and its applications in foods, cosmetics, and pharmaceuticals have increased every year. Currently, trehalose is industrially produced by the two-enzyme method, which was first developed in 1995 using maltooligosyltrehalose synthase (EC and subsequently using maltooligosyltrehalose trehalohydrolase (EC, with starch as the substrate. This biotechnical method has lowered the price of trehalose and expanded its applications. However, when trehalose synthase (EC was later discovered, this method for trehalose production using maltose as the substrate soon became a popular topic because of its simplicity and potential in industrial production. Since then, many trehalose synthases have been studied. This review summarizes the sources and characteristics of reported trehalose synthases, and the most recent advances on structural analysis of trehalose synthase, catalytic mechanism, molecular modification, and usage in industrial production processes.


Trehalose Trehalose synthase Biological production Physicochemical properties Structural analysis 


Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Ethical approval

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

Supplementary material

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ESM 1 (PDF 163 kb).


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© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Food Science and TechnologyJiangnan UniversityWuxiChina
  2. 2.Department of Biotechnology and Enzyme Science, Institute of Food Science and BiotechnologyUniversity of HohenheimStuttgartGermany

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