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Trends in Biotechnology
This journal offers authors two options (open access or subscription) to publish research

Apr 01, 2021

Volume 39Issue 4p323-424, e1-e2
Special Issue: Bioconversion of C1 Products and Feedstocks
Recent progress in the development of carbon capture and utilization and power-to-X (PtX) technologies has created exciting possibilities in industrial biotechnology. The availability of C1 feedstocks, such as methanol and formic acid, from CO2 conversion in PtX processes enables biotechnology to harness methylotrophic or formatotrophic microorganisms for the synthesis of value-added chemical products. The well-studied metabolism of C1 substrates now re-appears as a highly attractive area of research, implemented via synthetic biology and synthetic methylotrophy. This special issue reviews a broad range of production pathways, from CO2 as a raw material via PtX processes, to biotechnological synthesis of complex and valuable chemical products using C1 inputs. Cover image from Volker Sieber and Jonathan Fabarius....
Recent progress in the development of carbon capture and utilization and power-to-X (PtX) technologies has created exciting possibilities in industrial biotechnology. The availability of C1 feedstocks, such as methanol and formic acid, from CO2 conversion in PtX processes enables biotechnology to harness methylotrophic or formatotrophic microorganisms for the synthesis of value-added chemical products. The well-studied metabolism of C1 substrates now re-appears as a highly attractive area of research, implemented via synthetic biology and synthetic methylotrophy. This special issue reviews a broad range of production pathways, from CO2 as a raw material via PtX processes, to biotechnological synthesis of complex and valuable chemical products using C1 inputs. Cover image from Volker Sieber and Jonathan Fabarius.

Scientific Life

  • Engineering Biocatalytic Solar Fuel Production: The PHOTOFUEL Consortium

    • Julian Wichmann,
    • Kyle J. Lauersen,
    • Natascia Biondi,
    • Magnus Christensen,
    • Tiago Guerra,
    • Klaus Hellgardt,
    • Simon Kühner,
    • Markku Kuronen,
    • Pia Lindberg,
    • Christine Rösch,
    • Ian S. Yunus,
    • Patrik Jones,
    • Peter Lindblad,
    • Olaf Kruse
    The EU Horizon2020 consortium PHOTOFUEL joined academic and industrial partners from biology, chemistry, engineering, engine design, and lifecycle assessment, making tremendous progress towards engine-ready fuels from CO2 via engineered photosynthetic microbes. Technical, environmental, economic, and societal opportunities and challenges were explored to frame future technology realization at scale.

Spotlights

  • Reductive Glycine Pathway: A Versatile Route for One-Carbon Biotech

    • Nico J. Claassens
    Hong et al. heterologously expressed the metabolic core of the reductive glycine pathway (rGlyP) as a sink for the anaerobic conversion of glycerol. This recent study concludes several reports in 2020 on the ATP-efficient, one-carbon-assimilating rGlyP. Its engineering in diverse hosts could help the transformation toward renewable, one-carbon-based bioproduction.
  • Directed Evolution of Propionyl-CoA Carboxylase for Succinate Biosynthesis

    • Yuwan Liu,
    • Huifeng Jiang
    Due to low carboxylase activity, CO2 biotransformation is challenging to achieve using natural CO2 fixation pathways. Liu et al. have improved the activity of propionyl-CoA carboxylase (PCC) 94-fold, enabling the efficient synthesis of succinate from acetyl-CoA and paving the way for CO2 assimilation via the 3-hydroxypropionate (3-HP) bicycle or 3-hydroxypropionate/4-hydroxybutyrate (3-HP/4-HB) cycle.

Forum

  • Promoting Lignin Valorization by Coping with Toxic C1 Byproducts

    • Zhihui Zhang,
    • Yu Wang,
    • Ping Zheng,
    • Jibin Sun
    The toxic C1 compounds methanol and formaldehyde are generated during bioconversion of lignin into value-added chemicals. These toxins can be detoxified and assimilated by methylotrophs to synthesize useful metabolites and cell biomass. We discuss the promising future of constructing integrated biosystems to use toxic C1 byproducts and promote lignin valorization.

Opinions

  • In situ Biogas Upgrading by CO2-to-CH4 Bioconversion

    • Shanfei Fu,
    • Irini Angelidaki,
    • Yifeng Zhang
    Biogas produced by anaerobic digestion is an important renewable energy carrier. Nevertheless, the high CO2 content in biogas limits its utilization to mainly heat and electricity generation. Upgrading biogas into biomethane broadens its potential as a vehicle fuel or substitute for natural gas. CO2-to-CH4 bioconversion represents one cutting-edge solution for biogas upgrading. In situ bioconversion can capture endogenous CO2 directly from the biogas reactor, is easy to operate, and provides an infrastructure for renewable electricity storage.
  • Synthetic Methylotrophy in Yeasts: Towards a Circular Bioeconomy

    • Jonathan Thomas Fabarius,
    • Vanessa Wegat,
    • Arne Roth,
    • Volker Sieber
    Mitigating climate change is a key driver for the development of sustainable and CO2-neutral production processes. In this regard, connecting carbon capture and utilization processes to derive microbial C1 fermentation substrates from CO2 is highly promising. This strategy uses methylotrophic microbes to unlock next-generation processes, converting CO2-derived methanol. Synthetic biology approaches in particular can empower synthetic methylotrophs to produce a variety of commodity chemicals. We believe that yeasts have outstanding potential for this purpose, because they are able to separate toxic intermediates and metabolic reactions in organelles.
  • Microbial Electrosynthesis: Where Do We Go from Here?

    • Ludovic Jourdin,
    • Thomas Burdyny
    Open Access
    The valorization of CO2 to valuable products via microbial electrosynthesis (MES) is a technology transcending the disciplines of microbiology, (electro)chemistry, and engineering, bringing opportunities and challenges. As the field looks to the future, further emphasis is expected to be placed on engineering efficient reactors for biocatalysts, to thrive and overcome factors which may be limiting performance. Meanwhile, ample opportunities exist to take the lessons learned in traditional and adjacent electrochemical fields to shortcut learning curves.
  • Production of Bio-alkanes from Biomass and CO2

    • Richen Lin,
    • Chen Deng,
    • Wuyuan Zhang,
    • Frank Hollmann,
    • Jerry D. Murphy
    Bioelectrochemical technologies such as electro-fermentation and microbial CO2 electrosynthesis are emerging interdisciplinary technologies that can produce renewable fuels and chemicals (such as carboxylic acids). The benefits of electrically driven bioprocesses include improved production rate, selectivity, and carbon conversion efficiency. However, the accumulation of products can lead to inhibition of biocatalysts, necessitating further effort in separating products. The recent discovery of a new photoenzyme, capable of converting carboxylic acids to bio-alkanes, has offered an opportunity for system integration, providing a promising approach for simultaneous product separation and valorisation.

Reviews

  • Engineered Methanotrophy: A Sustainable Solution for Methane-Based Industrial Biomanufacturing

    • Anh Duc Nguyen,
    • Eun Yeol Lee
    Methane is a promising feedstock with high abundance and low cost for the sustainable production of biochemicals and biofuels. Methanotrophic bacteria are particularly interesting platforms for methane bioconversion as they can utilize methane as a carbon substrate. Recently, breakthroughs in the understanding of methane metabolism in methanotrophs as well as critical advances in systems metabolic engineering of methanotrophic bacteria have been reported. Here, we discuss the important gaps in the understanding of methanotrophic metabolism that have been uncovered recently and the current trends in systems metabolic engineering in both methanotrophic bacteria and non-native hosts to advance the potential of methane-based biomanufacturing.
  • From Acetate to Bio-Based Products: Underexploited Potential for Industrial Biotechnology

    • Dirk Kiefer,
    • Manuel Merkel,
    • Lars Lilge,
    • Marius Henkel,
    • Rudolf Hausmann
    Currently, most biotechnological products are based on microbial conversion of carbohydrate substrates that are predominantly generated from sugar- or starch-containing plants. However, direct competitive uses of these feedstocks in the food and feed industry represent a dilemma, so using alternative carbon sources has become increasingly important in industrial biotechnology. A promising alternative carbon source that may be generated in substantial amounts from lignocellulosic biomass and C1 gases is acetate.
  • Metabolic Engineering of Cupriavidus necator H16 for Sustainable Biofuels from CO2

    • Justin Panich,
    • Bonnie Fong,
    • Steven W. Singer
    Open Access
    Decelerating global warming is one of the predominant challenges of our time and will require conversion of CO2 to usable products and commodity chemicals. Of particular interest is the production of fuels, because the transportation sector is a major source of CO2 emissions. Here, we review recent technological advances in metabolic engineering of the hydrogen-oxidizing bacterium Cupriavidus necator H16, a chemolithotroph that naturally consumes CO2 to generate biomass. We discuss recent successes in biofuel production using this organism, and the implementation of electrolysis/artificial photosynthesis approaches that enable growth of C.
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