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PloS One


Thayer School of Engineering


Large-scale production of lignocellulosic biofuel is a potential solution to sustainably meet global energy needs. One-step consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) is a potentially advantageous approach for the production of biofuels, but requires an organism capable of hydrolyzing biomass to sugars and fermenting the sugars to ethanol at commercially viable titers and yields. Clostridium thermocellum, a thermophilic anaerobe, can ferment cellulosic biomass to ethanol and organic acids, but low yield, low titer, and ethanol sensitivity remain barriers to industrial production. Here, we deleted the hypoxanthine phosphoribosyltransferase gene in ethanol tolerant strain of C. thermocellum adhE*(EA) in order to allow use of previously developed gene deletion tools, then deleted lactate dehydrogenase (ldh) to redirect carbon flux towards ethanol. Upon deletion of ldh, the adhE*(EA) Δldh strain produced 30% more ethanol than wild type on minimal medium. The adhE*(EA) Δldh strain retained tolerance to 5% v/v ethanol, resulting in an ethanol tolerant platform strain of C. thermocellum for future metabolic engineering efforts.



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