Send to

Choose Destination
PLoS One. 2011 Mar 8;6(3):e17678. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0017678.

Genomic library screens for genes involved in n-butanol tolerance in Escherichia coli.

Author information

Department of Chemical Engineering, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, United States of America.



n-Butanol is a promising emerging biofuel, and recent metabolic engineering efforts have demonstrated the use of several microbial hosts for its production. However, most organisms have very low tolerance to n-butanol (up to 2% (v/v)), limiting the economic viability of this biofuel. The rational engineering of more robust n-butanol production hosts relies upon understanding the mechanisms involved in tolerance. However, the existing knowledge of genes involved in n-butanol tolerance is limited. The goal of this study is therefore to identify E. coli genes that are involved in n-butanol tolerance.


Using a genomic library enrichment strategy, we identified approximately 270 genes that were enriched or depleted in n-butanol challenge. The effects of these candidate genes on n-butanol tolerance were experimentally determined using overexpression or deletion libraries. Among the 55 enriched genes tested, 11 were experimentally shown to confer enhanced tolerance to n-butanol when overexpressed compared to the wild-type. Among the 84 depleted genes tested, three conferred increased n-butanol resistance when deleted. The overexpressed genes that conferred the largest increase in n-butanol tolerance were related to iron transport and metabolism, entC and feoA, which increased the n-butanol tolerance by 32.8±4.0% and 49.1±3.3%, respectively. The deleted gene that resulted in the largest increase in resistance to n-butanol was astE, which enhanced n-butanol tolerance by 48.7±6.3%.


We identified and experimentally verified 14 genes that decreased the inhibitory effect of n-butanol tolerance on E. coli. From the data, we were able to expand the current knowledge on the genes involved in n-butanol tolerance; the results suggest that an increased iron transport and metabolism and decreased acid resistance may enhance n-butanol tolerance. The genes and mechanisms identified in this study will be helpful in the rational engineering of more robust biofuel producers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Public Library of Science Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center