L-lactic acid production from D-xylose with Candida sonorensis expressing a heterologous lactate dehydrogenase encoding gene

Kari Koivuranta (Corresponding Author), Marja Ilmen, Marilyn Wiebe, Laura Ruohonen, P. Suominen, Merja Penttilä

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

    25 Citations (Scopus)


    Background: Bioplastics, like polylactic acid (PLA), are renewable alternatives for petroleum-based plastics. Lactic acid, the monomer of PLA, has traditionally been produced biotechnologically with bacteria. With genetic engineering, yeast have the potential to replace bacteria in biotechnological lactic acid production, with the benefits of being acid tolerant and having simple nutritional requirements. Lactate dehydrogenase genes have been introduced to various yeast to demonstrate this potential. Importantly, an industrial lactic acid producing process utilising yeast has already been implemented. Utilisation of D-xylose in addition to D-glucose in production of biochemicals such as lactic acid by microbial fermentation would be beneficial, as it would allow lignocellulosic raw materials to be utilised in the production processes.Results: The yeast Candida sonorensis, which naturally metabolises D-xylose, was genetically modified to produce L-lactic acid from D-xylose by integrating the gene encoding L-lactic acid dehydrogenase (ldhL) from Lactobacillus helveticus into its genome. In microaerobic, CaCO3-buffered conditions a C. sonorensis ldhL transformant having two copies of the ldhL gene produced 31 g l-1 lactic acid from 50 g l-1 D-xylose free of ethanol.Anaerobic production of lactic acid from D-xylose was assessed after introducing an alternative pathway of D-xylose metabolism, i.e. by adding a xylose isomerase encoded by XYLA from Piromyces sp. alone or together with the xylulokinase encoding gene XKS1 from Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Strains were further modified by deletion of the endogenous xylose reductase encoding gene, alone or together with the xylitol dehydrogenase encoding gene. Strains of C. sonorensis expressing xylose isomerase produced L-lactic acid from D-xylose in anaerobic conditions. The highest anaerobic L-lactic acid production (8.5 g l-1) was observed in strains in which both the xylose reductase and xylitol dehydrogenase encoding genes had been deleted and the xylulokinase encoding gene from S. cerevisiae was overexpressed.Conclusions: Integration of two copies of the ldhL gene in C. sonorensis was sufficient to obtain good L-lactic acid production from D-xylose. Under anaerobic conditions, the ldhL strain with exogenous xylose isomerase and xylulokinase genes expressed and the endogenous xylose reductase and xylitol dehydrogenase genes deleted had the highest L- lactic acid production.
    Original languageEnglish
    Article number107
    JournalMicrobial Cell Factories
    Publication statusPublished - 2014
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • lactic acids
    • biopolymers
    • yeasts
    • candida sonorensis
    • xylose
    • pyruvate decarboxylase
    • xylose reductase
    • xylitol dehydrogenase
    • xylose isomerase


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