A coculture-coproduction system designed for enhanced carbon conservation through inter-strain CO2 recycling

Andrew D. Flores, Steven C. Holland, Apurv Mhatre, Aditya P. Sarnaik, Amanda Godar, Moses Onyeabor, Arul M. Varman, Xuan Wang, David R. Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Carbon loss in the form of CO2 is an intrinsic and persistent challenge faced during conventional and advanced biofuel production from biomass feedstocks. Current mechanisms for increasing carbon conservation typically require the provision of reduced co-substrates as additional reducing equivalents. This need can be circumvented, however, by exploiting the natural heterogeneity of lignocellulosic sugars mixtures and strategically using specific fractions to drive complementary CO2 emitting vs. CO2 fixing pathways. As a demonstration of concept, a coculture-coproduction system was developed by pairing two catabolically orthogonal Escherichia coli strains; one converting glucose to ethanol (G2E) and the other xylose to succinate (X2S). 13C-labeling studies reveled that G2E + X2S cocultures were capable of recycling 24% of all evolved CO2 and achieved a carbon conservation efficiency of 77%; significantly higher than the 64% achieved when all sugars are instead converted to just ethanol. In addition to CO2 exchange, the latent exchange of pyruvate between strains was discovered, along with significant carbon rearrangement within X2S.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)387-395
Number of pages9
JournalMetabolic Engineering
StatePublished - Sep 2021


  • 13C-fingerprinting
  • CO2 fixation
  • Carbon conservation
  • Coculture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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