Characterization of heterotrophic growth and sesquiterpene production by Rhodobacter sphaeroides on a defined medium

Enrico Orsi, Pauline L. Folch, Vicente T. Monje-López, Bas M. Fernhout, Alessandro Turcato, Servé W.M. Kengen, Gerrit Eggink, Ruud A. Weusthuis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

18 Citations (Scopus)


Rhodobacter sphaeroides is a metabolically versatile bacterium capable of producing terpenes natively. Surprisingly, terpene biosynthesis in this species has always been investigated in complex media, with unknown compounds possibly acting as carbon and nitrogen sources. Here, a defined medium was adapted for R. sphaeroides dark heterotrophic growth, and was used to investigate the conversion of different organic substrates into the reporter terpene amorphadiene. The amorphadiene synthase was cloned in R. sphaeroides, allowing its biosynthesis via the native 2-methyl-d-erythritol-4-phosphate (MEP) pathway and, additionally, via a heterologous mevalonate one. The latter condition increased titers up to eightfold. Consequently, better yields and productivities to previously reported complex media cultivations were achieved. Productivity was further investigated under different cultivation conditions, including nitrogen and oxygen availability. This novel cultivation setup provided useful insight into the understanding of terpene biosynthesis in R. sphaeroides, allowing to better comprehend its dynamics and regulation during chemoheterotrophic cultivation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1179-1190
JournalJournal of Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number8
Early online date11 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2019


  • Amorphadiene
  • MEP
  • Mevalonate
  • PHB
  • Rhodobacter sphaeroides


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