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Nature Communications
Vol. 7, 2016

CO2 fixation by anaerobic non-photosynthetic mixotrophy for improved carbon conversion

Shawn W. Jones, Alan G. Fast, Ellinor D. Carlson, Carrissa A. Wiedel, Jennifer Au, Maciek R. Antoniewicz, Eleftherios T. Papoutsakis & Bryan P. Tracy

White Dog Labs, Inc., 15 Reads Way, New Castle, Delaware 19720, USA.


Maximizing the conversion of biogenic carbon feedstocks into chemicals and fuels is essential for fermentation processes as feedstock costs and processing is commonly the greatest operating expense. Unfortunately, for most fermentations, over one-third of sugar carbon is lost to CO2 due to the decarboxylation of pyruvate to acetyl-CoA and limitations in the reducing power of the bio-feedstock. Here we show that anaerobic, non-photosynthetic mixotrophy, defined as the concurrent utilization of organic (for example, sugars) and inorganic (for example, CO2) substrates in a single organism, can overcome these constraints to increase product yields and reduce overall CO2 emissions. As a proof-of-concept, Clostridium ljungdahlii was engineered to produce acetone and achieved a mass yield 138% of the previous theoretical maximum using a high cell density continuous fermentation process. In addition, when enough reductant (that is, H2) is provided, the fermentation emits no CO2. Finally, we show that mixotrophy is a general trait among acetogens.

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