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      Biotechnological production of glycolic acid and ethylene glycol: current state and perspectives

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          Glycolic acid (GA) and ethylene glycol (EG) are versatile two-carbon organic chemicals used in multiple daily applications. GA and EG are currently produced by chemical synthesis, but their biotechnological production from renewable resources has received a substantial interest. Several different metabolic pathways by using genetically modified microorganisms, such as Escherichia coli, Corynebacterium glutamicum and yeast have been established for their production. As a result, the yield of GA and EG produced from sugars has been significantly improved. Here, we describe the recent advancement in metabolic engineering efforts focusing on metabolic pathways and engineering strategies used for GA and EG production.

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          Most cited references 37

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          Genetic analysis of a novel pathway for D-xylose metabolism in Caulobacter crescentus.

          Genetic data suggest that the oligotrophic freshwater bacterium Caulobacter crescentus metabolizes D-xylose through a pathway yielding alpha-ketoglutarate, comparable to the recently described L-arabinose degradation pathway of Azospirillum brasilense. Enzymes of the C. crescentus pathway, including an NAD(+)-dependent xylose dehydrogenase, are encoded in the xylose-inducible xylXABCD operon (CC0823-CC0819).
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            Catalytic conversion of cellulose into ethylene glycol over supported carbide catalysts

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              Production of glycolic acid by chemolithotrophic iron- and sulfur-oxidizing bacteria and its role in delineating and sustaining acidophilic sulfide mineral-oxidizing consortia.

              Glycolic acid was detected as an exudate in actively growing cultures of three chemolithotrophic acidophiles that are important in biomining operations, Leptospirillum ferriphilum, Acidithiobacillus (At.) ferrooxidans, and At. caldus. Although similar concentrations of glycolic acid were found in all cases, the concentrations corresponded to ca. 24% of the total dissolved organic carbon (DOC) in cultures of L. ferriphilum but only ca. 5% of the total DOC in cultures of the two Acidithiobacillus spp. Rapid acidification (to pH 1.0) of the culture medium of At. caldus resulted in a large increase in the level of DOC, although the concentration of glycolic acid did not change in proportion. The archaeon Ferroplasma acidiphilum grew in the cell-free spent medium of At. caldus; glycolic acid was not metabolized, although other unidentified compounds in the DOC pool were metabolized. Glycolic acid exhibited levels of toxicity with 21 strains of acidophiles screened similar to those of acetic acid. The most sensitive species were chemolithotrophs (L. ferriphilum and At. ferrivorans), while the most tolerant species were chemoorganotrophs (Acidocella, Acidobacterium, and Ferroplasma species), and the ability to metabolize glycolic acid appeared to be restricted (among acidophiles) to Firmicutes (chiefly Sulfobacillus spp.). Results of this study help explain why Sulfobacillus spp. rather than other acidophiles are the main organic carbon-degrading bacteria in continuously fed stirred tanks used to bioprocess sulfide mineral concentrates and also why temporary cessation of pH control in these systems, resulting in rapid acidification, often results in a plume of the archaeon Ferroplasma.

                Author and article information

                +358 40 6731208 ,
                Appl Microbiol Biotechnol
                Appl. Microbiol. Biotechnol
                Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
                Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                1 February 2019
                1 February 2019
                : 103
                : 6
                : 2525-2535
                ISNI 0000 0004 0400 1852, GRID grid.6324.3, Solutions for Natural Resources and Environment, , VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland Ltd, ; Tietotie 2, P.O. Box 1000, 02044 VTT Espoo, Finland
                © The Author(s) 2019

                Open Access This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

                Funded by: Academy of Finland
                Award ID: 118573
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                © Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2019


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