Thermodynamic and Kinetic Modeling of Co-Utilization of Glucose and Xylose for 2,3-BDO Production by Zymomonas mobilis

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Prior engineering of the ethanologen Zymomonas mobilis has enabled it to metabolize xylose and to produce 2,3-butanediol (2,3-BDO) as a dominant fermentation product. When co-fermenting with xylose, glucose is preferentially utilized, even though xylose metabolism generates ATP more efficiently during 2,3-BDO production on a BDO-mol basis. To gain a deeper understanding of Z. mobilis metabolism, we first estimated the kinetic parameters of the glucose facilitator protein of Z. mobilis by fitting a kinetic uptake model, which shows that the maximum transport capacity of glucose is seven times higher than that of xylose, and glucose is six times more affinitive to the transporter than xylose. With these estimated kinetic parameters, we further compared the thermodynamic driving force and enzyme protein cost of glucose and xylose metabolism. It is found that, although 20% more ATP can be yielded stoichiometrically during xylose utilization, glucose metabolism is thermodynamically more favorable with 6% greater cumulative Gibbs free energy change, more economical with 37% less enzyme cost required at the initial stage and sustains the advantage of the thermodynamic driving force and protein cost through the fermentation process until glucose is exhausted. Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (g6pdh), glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (gapdh) and phosphoglycerate mutase (pgm) are identified as thermodynamic bottlenecks in glucose utilization pathway, as well as two more enzymes of xylose isomerase and ribulose-5-phosphate epimerase in xylose metabolism. Acetolactate synthase is found as potential engineering target for optimized protein cost supporting unit metabolic flux. Pathway analysis was then extended to the core stoichiometric matrix of Z. mobilis metabolism. Growth was simulated by dynamic flux balance analysis and the model was validated showing good agreement with experimental data. Dynamic FBA simulations suggest that a high agitation is preferable to increase 2,3-BDO productivity while a moderate agitation will benefit the 2,3-BDO titer. Taken together, this work provides thermodynamic and kinetic insights of Z. mobilis metabolism on dual substrates, and guidance of bioengineering efforts to increase hydrocarbon fuel production.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number707749
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Bioengineering and Biotechnology
StatePublished - 26 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Copyright © 2021 Wu, Spiller, Dowe, Bomble and St. John.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-2700-79961


  • 23-butanediol
  • biofuel production
  • dynamic flux balance analysis
  • enzyme protein cost analysis
  • kinetic models
  • thermodynamics analysis
  • Zymomonas mobilis


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