Bioprocess Development for Muconic Acid Production from Aromatic Compounds and Lignin

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

128 Scopus Citations


Muconic acid (MA) is a bio-based platform chemical that can be converted into the commodity petrochemical building blocks adipic acid or terephthalic acid, or used in emerging, performance-advantaged materials. MA is a metabolic intermediate in the β-ketoadipate pathway, and can be produced from carbohydrates or other traditional carbon sources via the shikimate pathway. MA can also be produced from lignin-derived aromatic compounds with high atom efficiency through aromatic-catabolic pathways. Metabolic engineering efforts to date have developed efficient muconic acid-producing strains of the aromatic-catabolic microbe Pseudomonas putida KT2440, but the titers, productivities, and yields from aromatic compounds in most cases remain below the thresholds needed for industrially-relevant bioreactor cultivations. To that end, this work presents further process and host development towards improving MA titers, yields, and productivities, using the hydroxycinnamic acids, p-coumaric acid and ferulic acid, as model aromatic compounds. Coupling strain engineering and bioprocess development enabled the discovery of new bottlenecks in P. putida that hinder MA production from these compounds. A combination of gene overexpression and removal of a global catabolic regulator resulted in high-yielding strains (100% molar yield). Maximum MA titers of 50 g L-1, which is near the lethal toxicity limit in this bacterium, and productivities over 0.5 g L-1 h-1 were achieved in separate process configurations. Additionally, a high-pH feeding strategy, which could potentially reduce the salt load and enable higher titers by decreasing product dilution, was tested with model compounds and lignin-rich streams from corn stover and a complete conversion of the primary monomeric aromatic compounds to MA was demonstrated, obtaining a titer of 4 g L-1. Overall, this study presents a step forward for the production of value-added chemicals from lignin and highlights critical needs for further strain improvement and bioprocess development that can be applied in the biological valorization of lignin.

Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)5007-5019
Number of pages13
JournalGreen Chemistry
Issue number21
StatePublished - 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018 The Royal Society of Chemistry.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2A00-72687


  • aromatic compounds
  • bioprocessing
  • lignin
  • muconic acid


Dive into the research topics of 'Bioprocess Development for Muconic Acid Production from Aromatic Compounds and Lignin'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this