Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.105, No.4, 1709-1720, 2021
Metabolic engineering of Zymomonas moblis for ethylene production from straw hydrolysate
Biological ethylene production is a promising sustainable alternative approach for fossil-based ethylene production. The high glucose utilization of Z. mobilis makes it as a promising bioethylene producer. In this study, Zymomonas mobilis has been engineered to produce ethylene through the introduction of the synthetic ethylene-forming enzyme (EFE). We also investigated the effect of systematically knocking out the competitive metabolic pathway of pyruvate in an effort to improve the availability of pyruvate for ethylene production in Z. mobilis expressing EFE. Guided by these results, we tested a number of conjectures that could improve the alpha-ketoglutarate supply. Optimization of these pathways and different substrate supplies resulted in a greater production of ethylene (from 1.36 to 12.83 nmol/OD600/mL), which may guide future engineering work on ethylene production using other organisms. Meanwhile, we achieved an ethylene production of 5.8 nmol/OD600/mL in the ZM532-efe strain using enzymatic straw hydrolysate of corn straw as the sole carbon source. As a preferred host in biorefinery technologies using lignocellulosic biomass as feedstock, heterologous expression of EFE in Z. mobilis converts the non-ethylene producing strain into an ethylene-producing one using a metabolic engineering approach, which is of great significance for the utilization of cellulosic biomass in the future.