First success in bioproduction of butadiene

April 13, 2021

A raw material of compounds, such as synthetic rubber, is produced directly from biomass resources

A research team of the RIKEN CSRS made the first success in direct production of one of the essential industrial materials, 1,3-butadiene (butadiene), through fermentation process from biomass using Escherichia coli as a bacterial catalyst.

Butadiene is one of the main raw materials of synthetic rubber and engineering plastics, and its demand in the global market exceeds 1.2 million metric tons annually. Currently, butadiene is chemically synthesized from fossil resources. In light of the realization of a low-carbon society, however, bioproduction from biomass resources as a material is required.

The research team now established a butadiene synthetic pathway in Escherichia coli by combining the “muconic acid-producing pathway” harbored in aromatic compound-degrading bacteria and “an enzyme producing butadiene from muconic acid”. Then they developed a new butadiene-producing enzyme by modifying ferulic acid decarboxylase (FDC), and successfully increased the ability to produce butadiene by 10 times compared with that before the modification. Further, using this FDC variant, 40 mg butadiene per liter of culture was synthesized for the first time directly from glucose that is a constituent of biomass. In addition, the amount of produced butadiene rose 50-fold by optimizing the conditions of the culture.

The findings of this study will contribute significantly to the achievement of a sustainable society with an environmentally-sound material cycle.


Original article
Nature Communications doi:10.1038/s41467-021-22504-6
Y. Mori, S. Noda, T. Shirai, A. Kondo,
"Direct 1,3-butadiene biosynthesis in Escherichia coli via a tailored ferulic acid decarboxylase mutant".

Tomokazu Shirai; Senior Scientist
Akihiko Kondo; Team Leader
Cell Factory Research Team