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Microbial Synthesis of Polymers and Polymer Precursors

A special issue of Molecules (ISSN 1420-3049). This special issue belongs to the section "Macromolecular Chemistry".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (30 June 2023) | Viewed by 26797

Special Issue Editors

State Key Laboratory of Microbial Resources, Institute of Microbiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China
Interests: microbiology; biopolymer synthesis; metabolic engineering; enzymes and pathways

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Guest Editor
Frontier Science Center for Synthetic Biology and Key Laboratory of Systems Bioengineering (Ministry of Education), School of Chemical Engineering and Technology, Tianjin University, Tianjin 300072, China
Interests: Metabolic engineering; Synthetic Biology; Bio-based Chemicals; Biopolymer synthesis; Microbial cell factories

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Polymers are an indispensable commodity that brings convenience and comfort to our daily lives. In the past few decades, microorganisms have become attractive, owing to their potential industrial applications in producing a wide variety of biopolymers or precursors for chemically synthesized polymers. Microbial polymers mainly include polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs), lactic-acid-containing polymers, polysaccharides, poly(maleic acid), poly-γ-glutamic acid (γ-PGA), etc. Besides the precursors for these natural polymers, ethylene glycol, propylene glycol, butylene glycol, adipic acid, succinate, and gamma-aminobutyrate can be produced by microbes and further used as precursors for chemically synthetic polymers. To achieve a high titer and productivity, continuous efforts are being made to mine naturally occurring microbial strains, optimize fermentation processes, and identify the key enzymes, pathways and regulation networks involved in polymer, as well as their precursor’s, synthesis. Moreover, with the aid of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology approaches, a myriad of opportunities exist for researchers to further design and engineer microbial systems with improved polymer and novel polymer producing ability.

Over the past decade, the field has experienced rapid progress with the development of molecular biology, system biology and synthetic biology. This Special Issue aims to provide a comprehensive collection of the latest advances in microbial synthesis of polymers and polymer precursors. The issue will cover topics including, but not restricted to, microbial resources, enzyme and pathway engineering, fermentation engineering, as well as microbial system engineering to enhance polymer and precursor yields.

Considering your prominent contribution in this active field of research, we would like to cordially invite you to submit an article to this Special Issue. We welcome short communications, full research articles, and timely reviews.

Dr. Jing Han
Prof. Dr. Tao Chen
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Molecules is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2700 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • microbial synthesis of biopolymers
  • microbial synthesis of precursors for polymers
  • metabolic engineering of biopolymers
  • synthetic biology of biopolymers
  • metabolic engineering of polymer precursors
  • synthetic biology of polymer precursors
  • enzymes and pathways for microbial polymers or precursors
  • regulation circuits for microbial polymers or precursors

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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12 pages, 1984 KiB  
Article
Development of Optogenetic Dual-Switch System for Rewiring Metabolic Flux for Polyhydroxybutyrate Production
by Sumeng Wang, Yue Luo, Wei Jiang, Xiaomeng Li, Qingsheng Qi and Quanfeng Liang
Molecules 2022, 27(3), 617; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27030617 - 18 Jan 2022
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2039
Abstract
Several strategies, including inducer addition and biosensor use, have been developed for dynamical regulation. However, the toxicity, cost, and inflexibility of existing strategies have created a demand for superior technology. In this study, we designed an optogenetic dual-switch system and applied it to [...] Read more.
Several strategies, including inducer addition and biosensor use, have been developed for dynamical regulation. However, the toxicity, cost, and inflexibility of existing strategies have created a demand for superior technology. In this study, we designed an optogenetic dual-switch system and applied it to increase polyhydroxybutyrate (PHB) production. First, an optimized chromatic acclimation sensor/regulator (RBS10–CcaS#10–CcaR) system (comprising an optimized ribosomal binding site (RBS), light sensory protein CcaS, and response regulator CcaR) was selected for a wide sensing range of approximately 10-fold between green-light activation and red-light repression. The RBS10–CcaS#10–CcaR system was combined with a blue light-activated YF1–FixJ–PhlF system (containing histidine kinase YF1, response regulator FixJ, and repressor PhlF) engineered with reduced crosstalk. Finally, the optogenetic dual-switch system was used to rewire the metabolic flux for PHB production by regulating the sequences and intervals of the citrate synthase gene (gltA) and PHB synthesis gene (phbCAB) expression. Consequently, the strain RBS34, which has high gltA expression and a time lag of 3 h, achieved the highest PHB content of 16.6 wt%, which was approximately 3-fold that of F34 (expressed at 0 h). The results indicate that the optogenetic dual-switch system was verified as a practical and convenient tool for increasing PHB production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Synthesis of Polymers and Polymer Precursors)
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12 pages, 1520 KiB  
Article
Biosynthesis of Poly-(3-hydroxybutyrate) under the Control of an Anaerobically Induced Promoter by Recombinant Escherichia coli from Sucrose
by Fangting Wu, Ying Zhou, Wenyu Pei, Yuhan Jiang, Xiaohui Yan and Hong Wu
Molecules 2022, 27(1), 294; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules27010294 - 04 Jan 2022
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 2363
Abstract
Poly-(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) is a polyester with biodegradable and biocompatible characteristics and has many potential applications. To reduce the raw material costs and microbial energy consumption during PHB production, cheaper carbon sources such as sucrose were evaluated for the synthesis of PHB under anaerobic [...] Read more.
Poly-(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) is a polyester with biodegradable and biocompatible characteristics and has many potential applications. To reduce the raw material costs and microbial energy consumption during PHB production, cheaper carbon sources such as sucrose were evaluated for the synthesis of PHB under anaerobic conditions. In this study, metabolic network analysis was conducted to construct an optimized pathway for PHB production using sucrose as the sole carbon source and to guide the gene knockout to reduce the generation of mixed acid byproducts. The plasmid pMCS-sacC was constructed to utilize sucrose as a sole carbon source, and the cascaded promoter P3nirB was used to enhance PHB synthesis under anaerobic conditions. The mixed acid fermentation pathway was knocked out in Escherichia coli S17-1 to reduce the synthesis of byproducts. As a result, PHB yield was improved to 80% in 6.21 g/L cell dry weight by the resulted recombinant Escherichia coli in a 5 L bed fermentation, using sucrose as the sole carbon source under anaerobic conditions. As a result, the production costs of PHB will be significantly reduced. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Synthesis of Polymers and Polymer Precursors)
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14 pages, 2351 KiB  
Article
Production of Polyhydroxyalkanoates in Unsterilized Hyper-Saline Medium by Halophiles Using Waste Silkworm Excrement as Carbon Source
by Shuangfeng Cai, Yaran Wu, Yanan Li, Shuying Yang, Zhi Liu, Yuwen Ma, Jianqiang Lv, Yujia Shao, Hongzhe Jia, Yan Zhao and Lei Cai
Molecules 2021, 26(23), 7122; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26237122 - 25 Nov 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 1694
Abstract
The chlorophyll ethanol-extracted silkworm excrement was hardly biologically reused or fermented by most microorganisms. However, partial extremely environmental halophiles were reported to be able to utilize a variety of inexpensive carbon sources to accumulate polyhydroxyalkanoates. In this study, by using the nile red [...] Read more.
The chlorophyll ethanol-extracted silkworm excrement was hardly biologically reused or fermented by most microorganisms. However, partial extremely environmental halophiles were reported to be able to utilize a variety of inexpensive carbon sources to accumulate polyhydroxyalkanoates. In this study, by using the nile red staining and gas chromatography assays, two endogenous haloarchaea strains: Haloarcula hispanica A85 and Natrinema altunense A112 of silkworm excrement were shown to accumulate poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) up to 0.23 g/L and 0.08 g/L, respectively, when using the silkworm excrement as the sole carbon source. The PHA production of two haloarchaea showed no significant decreases in the silkworm excrement medium without being sterilized compared to that of the sterilized medium. Meanwhile, the CFU experiments revealed that there were more than 60% target PHAs producing haloarchaea cells at the time of the highest PHAs production, and the addition of 0.5% glucose into the open fermentation medium can largely increase both the ratio of target haloarchaea cells (to nearly 100%) and the production of PHAs. In conclusion, our study demonstrated the feasibility of using endogenous haloarchaea to utilize waste silkworm excrement, effectively. The introduce of halophiles could provide a potential way for open fermentation to further lower the cost of the production of PHAs. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Synthesis of Polymers and Polymer Precursors)
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12 pages, 2205 KiB  
Article
Production of Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHAs) by Vibrio alginolyticus Strains Isolated from Salt Fields
by Hong-Fei Li, Meng-Ru Wang, Lin-Yue Tian and Zheng-Jun Li
Molecules 2021, 26(20), 6283; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26206283 - 17 Oct 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 2466
Abstract
Vibrio alginolyticus is a halophilic organism usually found in marine environments. It has attracted attention as an opportunistic pathogen of aquatic animals and humans, but there are very few reports on polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) production using V. alginolyticus as the host. In this study, [...] Read more.
Vibrio alginolyticus is a halophilic organism usually found in marine environments. It has attracted attention as an opportunistic pathogen of aquatic animals and humans, but there are very few reports on polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) production using V. alginolyticus as the host. In this study, two V. alginolyticus strains, LHF01 and LHF02, isolated from water samples collected from salt fields were found to produce poly(3-hydroxybutyrate) (PHB) from a variety of sugars and organic acids. Glycerol was the best carbon source and yielded the highest PHB titer in both strains. Further optimization of the NaCl concentration and culture temperature improved the PHB titer from 1.87 to 5.08 g/L in V. alginolyticus LHF01. In addition, the use of propionate as a secondary carbon source resulted in the production of poly(3-hydroxybutyrate-co-3-hydroxyvalerate) (PHBV). V. alginolyticus LHF01 may be a promising host for PHA production using cheap waste glycerol from biodiesel refining. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Synthesis of Polymers and Polymer Precursors)
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14 pages, 1726 KiB  
Article
Cost-Effective Production of L-DOPA by Tyrosinase-Immobilized Polyhydroxyalkanoate Nanogranules in Engineered Halomonas bluephagenesis TD01
by Jiping Zhao, Ganqiao Ran, Mengmeng Xu, Xiaoyun Lu and Dan Tan
Molecules 2021, 26(13), 3778; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26133778 - 22 Jun 2021
Cited by 12 | Viewed by 2809
Abstract
3,4-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine (L-DOPA) is a preferred drug for Parkinson’s disease, with an increasing demand worldwide that mainly relies on costly and environmentally problematic chemical synthesis. Yet, biological L-DOPA production is unfeasible at the industrial scale due to its low L-DOPA yield and high production [...] Read more.
3,4-dihydroxyphenyl-L-alanine (L-DOPA) is a preferred drug for Parkinson’s disease, with an increasing demand worldwide that mainly relies on costly and environmentally problematic chemical synthesis. Yet, biological L-DOPA production is unfeasible at the industrial scale due to its low L-DOPA yield and high production cost. In this study, low-cost Halomonas bluephagenesis TD01 was engineered to produce tyrosinase TyrVs-immobilized polyhydroxyalkanoate (PHA) nanogranules in vivo, with the improved PHA content and increased immobilization efficiency of TyrVs accounting for 6.85% on the surface of PHA. A higher L-DOPA-forming monophenolase activity of 518.87 U/g PHA granules and an L-DOPA concentration of 974.36 mg/L in 3 h catalysis were achieved, compared to those of E. coli. Together with the result of L-DOPA production directly by cell lysates containing PHA-TyrVs nanogranules, our study demonstrated the robust and cost-effective production of L-DOPA by H. bluephagenesis, further contributing to its low-cost industrial production based on next-generation industrial biotechnology (NGIB). Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Synthesis of Polymers and Polymer Precursors)
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Review

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22 pages, 2623 KiB  
Review
Microbial Synthesis of Heme b: Biosynthetic Pathways, Current Strategies, Detection, and Future Prospects
by Qiuyu Yang, Juntao Zhao, Yangyang Zheng, Tao Chen and Zhiwen Wang
Molecules 2023, 28(8), 3633; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules28083633 - 21 Apr 2023
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 2375
Abstract
Heme b, which is characterized by a ferrous ion and a porphyrin macrocycle, acts as a prosthetic group for many enzymes and contributes to various physiological processes. Consequently, it has wide applications in medicine, food, chemical production, and other burgeoning fields. Due [...] Read more.
Heme b, which is characterized by a ferrous ion and a porphyrin macrocycle, acts as a prosthetic group for many enzymes and contributes to various physiological processes. Consequently, it has wide applications in medicine, food, chemical production, and other burgeoning fields. Due to the shortcomings of chemical syntheses and bio-extraction techniques, alternative biotechnological methods have drawn increasing attention. In this review, we provide the first systematic summary of the progress in the microbial synthesis of heme b. Three different pathways are described in detail, and the metabolic engineering strategies for the biosynthesis of heme b via the protoporphyrin-dependent and coproporphyrin-dependent pathways are highlighted. The UV spectrophotometric detection of heme b is gradually being replaced by newly developed detection methods, such as HPLC and biosensors, and for the first time, this review summarizes the methods used in recent years. Finally, we discuss the future prospects, with an emphasis on the potential strategies for improving the biosynthesis of heme b and understanding the regulatory mechanisms for building efficient microbial cell factories. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Synthesis of Polymers and Polymer Precursors)
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22 pages, 858 KiB  
Review
Production of 3-Hydroxypropionic Acid from Renewable Substrates by Metabolically Engineered Microorganisms: A Review
by Xiaodi Wang, Zhenzhen Cui, Xi Sun, Zhiwen Wang and Tao Chen
Molecules 2023, 28(4), 1888; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules28041888 - 16 Feb 2023
Cited by 6 | Viewed by 3102
Abstract
3-Hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP) is a platform chemical with a wide range of existing and potential applications, including the production of poly(3-hydroxypropionate) (P-3HP), a biodegradable plastic. The microbial synthesis of 3-HP has attracted significant attention in recent years due to its green and sustainable [...] Read more.
3-Hydroxypropionic acid (3-HP) is a platform chemical with a wide range of existing and potential applications, including the production of poly(3-hydroxypropionate) (P-3HP), a biodegradable plastic. The microbial synthesis of 3-HP has attracted significant attention in recent years due to its green and sustainable properties. In this paper, we provide an overview of the microbial synthesis of 3-HP from four major aspects, including the main 3-HP biosynthesis pathways and chassis strains used for the construction of microbial cell factories, the major carbon sources used for 3-HP production, and fermentation processes. Recent advances in the biosynthesis of 3-HP and related metabolic engineering strategies are also summarized. Finally, this article provides insights into the future direction of 3-HP biosynthesis. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Synthesis of Polymers and Polymer Precursors)
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18 pages, 947 KiB  
Review
Current Advances towards 4-Hydroxybutyrate Containing Polyhydroxyalkanoates Production for Biomedical Applications
by Ruchira Mitra, Hua Xiang and Jing Han
Molecules 2021, 26(23), 7244; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26237244 - 29 Nov 2021
Cited by 8 | Viewed by 3188
Abstract
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are polyesters having high promise in biomedical applications. Among different types of PHA, poly-4-hydroxybutyrate (P4HB) is the only polymer that has received FDA approval for medical applications. However, most PHA producing microorganisms lack the ability to synthesize P4HB or PHA comprising [...] Read more.
Polyhydroxyalkanoates (PHA) are polyesters having high promise in biomedical applications. Among different types of PHA, poly-4-hydroxybutyrate (P4HB) is the only polymer that has received FDA approval for medical applications. However, most PHA producing microorganisms lack the ability to synthesize P4HB or PHA comprising 4-hydroxybutyrate (4HB) monomer due to their absence of a 4HB monomer supplying pathway. Thus, most microorganisms require supplementation of 4HB precursors to synthesize 4HB polymers. However, usage of 4HB precursors incurs additional production cost. Therefore, researchers have adopted strategies to reduce the cost, such as utilizing low-cost substrate as well as constructing 4HB monomer supplying pathways in microorganisms. We herein summarize the biomedical applications of P4HB, the natural producers of 4HB polymer, and the various strategies that have been applied in producing 4HB polymers in non-4HB producing microorganisms. It is expected that the readers would gain a vivid idea on the different strategic developments in the field of 4HB polymer production. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Synthesis of Polymers and Polymer Precursors)
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16 pages, 793 KiB  
Review
A Review of the Recent Developments in the Bioproduction of Polylactic Acid and Its Precursors Optically Pure Lactic Acids
by Shiyong Huang, Yanfen Xue, Bo Yu, Limin Wang, Cheng Zhou and Yanhe Ma
Molecules 2021, 26(21), 6446; https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26216446 - 26 Oct 2021
Cited by 39 | Viewed by 5612
Abstract
Lactic acid (LA) is an important organic acid with broad industrial applications. Considered as an environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based plastic with a wide range of applications, polylactic acid has generated a great deal of interest and therefore the demand for optically pure [...] Read more.
Lactic acid (LA) is an important organic acid with broad industrial applications. Considered as an environmentally friendly alternative to petroleum-based plastic with a wide range of applications, polylactic acid has generated a great deal of interest and therefore the demand for optically pure l- or d-lactic acid has increased accordingly. Microbial fermentation is the industrial route for LA production. LA bacteria and certain genetic engineering bacteria are widely used for LA production. Although some fungi, such as Saccharomyces cerevisiae, are not natural LA producers, they have recently received increased attention for LA production because of their acid tolerance. The main challenge for LA bioproduction is the high cost of substrates. The development of LA production from cost-effective biomasses is a potential solution to reduce the cost of LA production. This review examined and discussed recent progress in optically pure l-lactic acid and optically pure d-lactic acid fermentation. The utilization of inexpensive substrates is also focused on. Additionally, for PLA production, a complete biological process by one-step fermentation from renewable resources is also currently being developed by metabolically engineered bacteria. We also summarize the strategies and procedures for metabolically engineering microorganisms producing PLA. In addition, there exists some challenges to efficiently produce PLA, therefore strategies to overcome these challenges through metabolic engineering combined with enzyme engineering are also discussed. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Microbial Synthesis of Polymers and Polymer Precursors)
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