Direct biosynthesis of adipic acid from lignin-derived aromatics using engineered Pseudomonas putida KT2440

Wei Niu, Howard Willett, Joshua Mueller, Xinyuan He, Levi Kramer, Bin Ma, Jiantao Guo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Lignin is one largely untapped natural resource that can be exploited as a raw material for the bioproduction of value-added chemicals. Meanwhile, the current petroleum-based process for the production of adipic acid faces sustainability challenges. Here we report the successful engineering of Pseudomonas putida KT2440 strain for the direct biosynthesis of adipic acid from lignin-derived aromatics. The devised bio-adipic acid route features an artificial biosynthetic pathway that is connected to the endogenous aromatics degradation pathway of the host at the branching point, 3-ketoadipoyl-CoA, by taking advantage of the unique carbon skeleton of this key intermediate. Studies of the metabolism of 3-ketoadipoyl-CoA led to the discovery of crosstalk between two aromatics degradation pathways in KT2440. This knowledge facilitated the formulation and implementation of metabolic engineering strategies to optimize the carbon flux into the biosynthesis of adipic acid. By optimizing pathway expression and cultivation conditions, an engineered strain AA-1 produced adipic acid at 0.76 g/L and 18.4% molar yield under shake-flask conditions and 2.5 g/L and 17.4% molar yield under fermenter-controlled conditions from common aromatics that can be derived from lignin. This represents the first example of the direct adipic acid production from model compounds of lignin depolymerization.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)151-161
Number of pages11
JournalMetabolic Engineering
StatePublished - May 2020


  • 3-Ketoadipoyl-CoA
  • Adipic acid
  • Direct biosynthesis
  • Lignin
  • Pseudomonas putida KT2440

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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