U.S. Department of Energy Office of Biological and Environmental Research

BER Research Highlights

Engineered Furfural Tolerance in Caldicellulosiruptor bescii, a Consolidated Bioprocessing Thermophile
Published: July 22, 2015
Posted: September 01, 2015

Harsh pretreatments are often used to make lignocellulose sugars more accessible for conversion to biofuels. These pretreatments can cause problems for subsequent stages of biofuel production. For example, dilute-acid pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass creates potent inhibitors of microbial growth and fermentation such as furfural and 5-hydroxymethyl-furfural (5-HMF). The enzymatic reduction of these furan aldehydes to their corresponding less toxic alcohols is an engineering approach that has been successfully implemented in both Saccharomyces cerevisiae and ethanologenic Escherichia coli. However, this approach has not yet been investigated in thermophiles relevant to biofuel production through consolidated bioprocessing (CBP), such as Caldicellulosiruptor bescii. To test if C. bescii could be engineered to be more tolerant of these inhibitors, researchers from the Department of Energy’s BioEnergy Science Center (BESC) constructed a strain of C. bescii using a butanol dehydrogenase encoding gene from Thermoanaerobacter pseudethanolicus 39E (BdhA), which had previously been shown to have furfural and 5-HMF reducing capabilities. Heterologous expression of the NADPH-dependent BdhA enzyme conferred increased resistance of the engineered strain to both furfural and 5-HMF relative to the wild-type and parental strains. Further, when challenged with 15 mM concentrations of either furan aldehyde, the ability to eliminate furfural or 5-HMF from the culture medium was significantly improved in the engineered strain. This study represents the first example of engineering furan aldehyde resistance into a CBP-relevant thermophile and further validates C. bescii as being a genetically tractable microbe of importance for lignocellulosic biofuel production.

Reference: Chung, D., T. J. Verbeke, K. L. Cross, J. Westpheling, and J. G. Elkins. 2015. “Expression of a Heat-Stable NADPH-Dependent Alcohol Dehydrogenase in Caldicellulosiruptor bescii Results in Furan Aldehyde Detoxification,” Biotechnology for Biofuels 8,102. DOI: 10.1186/s13068-015-0287-y. (Reference link)

Contact: Kent Peters, SC-23.2, (301) 903-5549
Topic Areas:

  • Research Area: Genomic Analysis and Systems Biology
  • Research Area: Microbes and Communities
  • Research Area: Sustainable Biofuels and Bioproducts
  • Research Area: DOE Bioenergy Research Centers (BRC)
  • Research Area: Biosystems Design

Division: SC-23.2 Biological Systems Science Division, BER


BER supports basic research and scientific user facilities to advance DOE missions in energy and environment. More about BER

Recent Highlights

May 10, 2019
Quantifying Decision Uncertainty in Water Management via a Coupled Agent-Based Model
Considering risk perception can improve the representation of human decision-making processes in age [more...]

May 09, 2019
Projecting Global Urban Area Growth Through 2100 Based on Historical Time Series Data and Future Scenarios
Study provides country-specific urban area growth models and the first dataset on country-level urba [more...]

May 05, 2019
Calibrating Building Energy Demand Models to Refine Long-Term Energy Planning
A new, flexible calibration approach improved model accuracy in capturing year-to-year changes in bu [more...]

May 03, 2019
Calibration and Uncertainty Analysis of Demeter for Better Downscaling of Global Land Use and Land Cover Projections
Researchers improved the Demeter model’s performance by calibrating key parameters and establi [more...]

Apr 22, 2019
Representation of U.S. Warm Temperature Extremes in Global Climate Model Ensembles
Representation of warm temperature events varies considerably among global climate models, which has [more...]

List all highlights (possible long download time)