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Evaluation of bacterial hosts for conversion of lignin-derived p-coumaric acid to 4-vinylphenol.

  • Rodriguez, Alberto
  • Meadows, Jamie A
  • Sun, Ning
  • Simmons, Blake A
  • Gladden, John M
Publication Date
Sep 15, 2021
eScholarship - University of California
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Hydroxycinnamic acids such as p-coumaric acid (CA) are chemically linked to lignin in grassy biomass with fairly labile ester bonds and therefore represent a straightforward opportunity to extract and valorize lignin components. In this work, we investigated the enzymatic conversion of CA extracted from lignocellulose to 4-vinylphenol (4VP) by expressing a microbial phenolic acid decarboxylase in Corynebacterium glutamicum, Escherichia coli, and Bacillus subtilis. The performance of the recombinant strains was evaluated in response to the substrate concentration in rich medium or a lignin liquor and the addition of an organic overlay to perform a continuous product extraction in batch cultures. We found that using undecanol as an overlay enhanced the 4VP titers under high substrate concentrations, while extracting > 97% of the product from the aqueous phase. C. glutamicum showed the highest tolerance to CA and resulted in the accumulation of up to 187 g/L of 4VP from pure CA in the overlay with a 90% yield when using rich media, or 17 g/L of 4VP with a 73% yield from CA extracted from lignin. These results indicate that C. glutamicum is a suitable host for the high-level production of 4VP and that further bioprocess engineering strategies should be explored to optimize the production, extraction, and purification of 4VP from lignin with this organism.

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