Engineering Escherichia coli coculture systems for the production of biochemical products

Haoran Zhang, Brian Pereira, Zhengjun Li, Gregory Stephanopoulos, Arnold L. Demain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

215 Scopus citations


Engineering microbial consortia to express complex biosynthetic pathways efficiently for the production of valuable compounds is a promising approach for metabolic engineering and synthetic biology. Here, we report the design, optimization, and scale-up of an Escherichia coli-E. coli coculture that successfully overcomes fundamental microbial production limitations, such as high-level intermediate secretion and low-efficiency sugar mixture utilization. For the production of the important chemical cis,cis-muconic acid, we show that the coculture approach achieves a production yield of 0.35 g/g from a glucose/xylose mixture, which is significantly higher than reported in previous reports. By efficiently producing another compound, 4-hydroxybenzoic acid, we also demonstrate that the approach is generally applicable for biosynthesis of other important industrial products.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)8266-8271
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number27
StatePublished - Jul 7 2015
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • General


  • 4-hydroxybenzoic acid
  • Metabolic engineering
  • Microbial coculture
  • Muconic acid


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