Benzene-free synthesis of adipic acid

Wei Niu, K. M. Draths, J. W. Frost

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

234 Scopus citations


Strains of Escherichia coli were constructed and evaluated that synthesized cis, cis-muconic acid from D-glucose under fed-batch fermentor conditions. Chemical hydrogenation of the cis, cis-muconic acid in the resulting fermentation broth has also been examined. Biocatalytic synthesis of adipic acid from glucose eliminates two environmental concerns characteristic of industrial adipic acid manufacture: use of carcinogenic benzene and benzene-derived chemicals as feedstocks and generation of nitrous oxide as a byproduct of a nitric acid catalyzed oxidation. While alternative catalytic syntheses that eliminate the use of nitric acid have been developed, most continue to rely on petroleum-derived benzene as the ultimate feedstock. In this study, E. coli WN1/pWN2.248 was developed that synthesized 36.8 g/L of cis, cis-muconic acid in 22% (mol/mol) yield from glucose after 48 h of culturing under fed-batch fermentor conditions. Optimization of microbial cis, cis-muconic acid synthesis required expression of three enzymes not typically found in E. coli. Two copies of the Klebsiella pneumoniae aroZ gene encoding DHS dehydratase were inserted into the E. coli chromosome, while the K. pneumoniae aroY gene encoding PCA decarboxylase and the Acinetobacter calcoaceticus catA gene encoding catechol 1,2-dioxygenase were expressed from an extrachromosomal plasmid. After fed-batch culturing of WN1/pWN2.248 was complete, the cells were removed from the broth, which was treated with activated charcoal and subsequently filtered to remove soluble protein. Hydrogenation of the resulting solution with 10% Pt on carbon (5% mol/mol) at 3400 kPa of H2 pressure for 2.5 h at ambient temperature afforded a 97% (mol/mol) conversion of cis, cis-muconic acid into adipic acid.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)201-211
Number of pages11
JournalBiotechnology Progress
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology


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