Metabolic shift induced by synthetic co-cultivation promotes high yield of chain elongated acids from syngas

Martijn Diender, Ivette Parera Olm, Marten Gelderloos, Jasper J. Koehorst, Peter J. Schaap, Alfons J.M. Stams, Diana Z. Sousa*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Bio-catalytic processes for sustainable production of chemicals and fuels receive increased attention within the concept of circular economy. Strategies to improve these production processes include genetic engineering of bio-catalysts or process technological optimization. Alternatively, synthetic microbial co-cultures can be used to enhance production of chemicals of interest. It remains often unclear however how microbe to microbe interactions affect the overall production process and how this can be further exploited for application. In the present study we explored the microbial interaction in a synthetic co-culture of Clostridium autoethanogenum and Clostridium kluyveri, producing chain elongated products from carbon monoxide. Monocultures of C. autoethanogenum converted CO to acetate and traces of ethanol, while during co-cultivation with C. kluyveri, it shifted its metabolism significantly towards solventogenesis. In C. autoethanogenum, expression of the genes involved in the central carbon- and energy-metabolism remained unchanged during co-cultivation compared to monoculture condition. Therefore the shift in the metabolic flux of C. autoethanogenum appears to be regulated by thermodynamics, and results from the continuous removal of ethanol by C. kluyveri. This trait could be further exploited, driving the metabolism of C. autoethanogenum to solely ethanol formation during co-cultivation, resulting in a high yield of chain elongated products from CO-derived electrons. This research highlights the important role of thermodynamic interactions in (synthetic) mixed microbial communities and shows that this can be exploited to promote desired conversions.

Original languageEnglish
Article number18081
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2 Dec 2019


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