Infoscience

Journal article

Exploring biochemical pathways for mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) synthesis from synthesis gas

Mono-ethylene glycol (MEG) is an important petrochemical with widespread use in numerous consumer products. The current industrial MEG-production process relies on non-renewable fossil fuel-based feedstocks, such as petroleum, natural gas, and naphtha; hence, it is useful to explore alternative routes of MEG-synthesis from gases as they might provide a greener and more sustainable alternative to the current production methods. Technologies of synthetic biology and metabolic engineering of microorganisms can be deployed for the expression of new biochemical pathways for MEG-synthesis from gases, provided that such promising alternative routes are first identified. We used the BNICE.ch algorithm to develop novel and previously unknown biological pathways to MEG from synthesis gas by leveraging the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway of carbon fixation of acetogenic bacteria. We developed a set of useful pathway pruning and analysis criteria to systematically assess thousands of pathways generated by BNICE. ch. Published genome-scale models of Moorella thermoacetica and Clostridium ljungdahlii were used to perform the pathway yield calculations and in-depth analyses of seven (7) newly developed biological MEG-producing pathways from gases, including CO2, CO, and H-2. These analyses helped identify not only better candidate pathways, but also superior chassis organisms that can be used for metabolic engineering of the candidate pathways. The pathway generation, pruning, and detailed analysis procedures described in this study can also be used to develop biochemical pathways for other commodity chemicals from gaseous substrates.

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