Metabolic engineering

From zero to hero - production of bio-based nylon from renewable resources using engineered Corynebacterium glutamicum.

PMID 24831706


Polyamides are important industrial polymers. Currently, they are produced exclusively from petrochemical monomers. Herein, we report the production of a novel bio-nylon, PA5.10 through an integration of biological and chemical approaches. First, systems metabolic engineering of Corynebacterium glutamicum was used to create an effective microbial cell factory for the production of diaminopentane as the polymer building block. In this way, a hyper-producer, with a high diaminopentane yield of 41% in shake flask culture, was generated. Subsequent fed-batch production of C. glutamicum DAP-16 allowed a molar yield of 50%, a productivity of 2.2gL(-1)h(-1), and a final titer of 88gL(-1). The streamlined producer accumulated diaminopentane without generating any by-products. Solvent extraction from alkalized broth and two-step distillation provided highly pure diaminopentane (99.8%), which was then directly accessible for poly-condensation. Chemical polymerization with sebacic acid, a ten-carbon dicarboxylic acid derived from castor plant oil, yielded the bio-nylon, PA5.10. In pure form and reinforced with glass fibers, the novel 100% bio-polyamide achieved an excellent melting temperature and the mechanical strength of the well-established petrochemical polymers, PA6 and PA6.6. It even outperformed the oil-based products in terms of having a 6% lower density. It thus holds high promise for applications in energy-friendly transportation. The demonstration of a novel route for generation of bio-based nylon from renewable sources opens the way to production of sustainable bio-polymers with enhanced material properties and represents a milestone in industrial production.

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Sebacic acid, 99%