Metabolic energy conservation for fermentative product formation

P.L. Folch, M.M.M. Bisschops, R.A. Weusthuis*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Microbial production of bulk chemicals and biofuels from carbohydrates competes with low‐cost fossil‐based production. To limit production costs, high titres, productivities and especially high yields are required. This necessitates metabolic networks involved in product formation to be redox‐neutral and conserve metabolic energy to sustain growth and maintenance. Here, we review the mechanisms available to conserve energy and to prevent unnecessary energy expenditure. First, an overview of ATP production in existing sugar‐based fermentation processes is presented. Substrate‐level phosphorylation (SLP) and the involved kinase reactions are described. Based on the thermodynamics of these reactions, we explore whether other kinase‐catalysed reactions can be applied for SLP. Generation of ion‐motive force is another means to conserve metabolic energy. We provide examples how its generation is supported by carbon‐carbon double bond reduction, decarboxylation and electron transfer between redox cofactors. In a wider perspective, the relationship between redox potential and energy conservation is discussed. We describe how the energy input required for coenzyme A (CoA) and CO2 binding can be reduced by applying CoA‐transferases and transcarboxylases. The transport of sugars and fermentation products may require metabolic energy input, but alternative transport systems can be used to minimize this. Finally, we show that energy contained in glycosidic bonds and the phosphate‐phosphate bond of pyrophosphate can be conserved. This review can be used as a reference to design energetically efficient
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)829-858
JournalMicrobial Biotechnology
Issue number3
Early online date13 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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