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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2018 Feb;115(2):453-463. doi: 10.1002/bit.26472. Epub 2017 Oct 30.

Metabolic engineering of Bacillus subtilis for production of D-lactic acid.

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Department of Microbiology and Cell Science, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida.


Poly lactic acid (PLA) based plastics is renewable, bio-based, and biodegradable. Although present day PLA is composed of mainly L-LA, an L- and D- LA copolymer is expected to improve the quality of PLA and expand its use. To increase the number of thermotolerant microbial biocatalysts that produce D-LA, a derivative of Bacillus subtilis strain 168 that grows at 50°C was metabolically engineered. Since B. subtilis lacks a gene encoding D-lactate dehydrogenase (ldhA), five heterologous ldhA genes (B. coagulans ldhA and gldA101, and ldhA from three Lactobacillus delbrueckii) were evaluated. Corresponding D-LDHs were purified and biochemically characterized. Among these, D-LDH from L. delbrueckii subspecies bulgaricus supported the highest D-LA titer (about 1M) and productivity (2 g h-1  g cells-1 ) at 37°C (B. subtilis strain DA12). The D-LA titer at 48°C was about 0.6 M at a yield of 0.99 (g D-LA g-1 glucose consumed). Strain DA12 also fermented glucose at 48°C in mineral salts medium to lactate at a yield of 0.89 g g-1 glucose and the D-lactate titer was 180 ± 4.5 mM. These results demonstrate the potential of B. subtilis as a platform organism for metabolic engineering for production of chemicals at 48°C that could minimize process cost.


Bacillus subtilis; D-LDH activity; D-lactic acid; Fermentation; Lactobacillus ldhA

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