Funneling aromatic products of chemically depolymerized lignin into 2-pyrone-4-6-dicarboxylic acid with Novosphingobium aromaticivorans
Lignin is an aromatic heteropolymer found in plant biomass. Depolymerization of lignin, either through biological or chemical means, invariably produces heterogenous mixtures of low molecular weight aromatic compounds. Microbes that can metabolize lignin-derived aromatics have evolved pathways that funnel these heterogeneous mixtures into a few common intermediates before opening the aromatic ring. In this work, we engineered Novosphingobium aromaticivorans DSM12444, via targeted gene deletions, to use its native funneling pathways to simultaneously convert plant-derived aromatic compounds containing syringyl (S), guaiacyl (G), and p-hydroxyphenyl (H) aromatic units into 2-pyrone-4,6-dicarboxylic acid (PDC), a potential polyester precursor. In batch cultures containing defined media, the engineered strain converted several of these depolymerization products, including S-diketone and G-diketone (non-natural compounds specifically produced by chemical depolymerization), into PDC with yields ranging from 22% to 100%. In batch cultures containing a heterogeneous mixture of aromatic monomers derived from chemical depolymerization of poplar lignin, 59% of the measured aromatic compounds were converted to PDC. Overall, our results show that N. aromaticivorans has ideal characteristics for its use as a microbial platform for funneling heterogeneous mixtures of lignin depolymerization products into PDC or other commodity chemicals.
- This article is part of the themed collection: Green Biorefinery Technologies based on Waste Biomass