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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Generation of ionic liquid tolerant Pseudomonas putida KT2440 strains via adaptive laboratory evolution


Although the use of ionic liquids (ILs) for the pretreatment of lignocellulosic biomass has been limited due to high costs, recent efforts to develop low-cost protic ILs show promise for achieving cost-effectiveness for biorefineries. However, an additional challenge remains in that ILs present in biomass hydrolysates are toxic to most microbial hosts, resulting in poor growth phenotypes. To address this issue, we applied an adaptive laboratory evolution (ALE) approach for tolerizingPseudomonas putidaKT2440, an industrially relevant bacterial host, to two low-cost ILs (triethanolammonium acetate [TEOH][OAc] and triethylammonium hydrogen sulfate [TEA][HS]). After continuous cultivations with gradually increased IL levels, we obtained evolved strains showing significant improvements in their growth performance under high concentrations of the ILs (maximum 4% [TEOH][OAc] and 8% [TEA][HS], in w/v) at which the wild-type strain cannot grow. Sequencing of evolved strains revealed multiple regions where mutations were associated with improved performance in minimal media conditions (relA,gacS,oprB/PP_1446,fleQ,tktA, anduvrY/PP_4100) and in IL-specific conditions (PP_5350, PP_4929/emrE,oprD, and PP_5324). We further validated the causality of the PP_5350 andemrEgenes for improved IL toleranceviareverse engineering and transcriptomic analysis. A common mutation in the PP_5350 gene, encoding a RpiR family transcriptional regulator, was shown to significantly upregulate the glyoxylate cycle for efficient acetate catabolism. In addition, it was suggested that theemrEgene encodes an efflux pump which can export [TEA][HS]. Finally, the cultivation of two of the best performing evolved strains with IL-treated biomass hydrolysates demonstrated their considerable potential to be used as platform strains. Taken as a whole, this work provides strains for utilization of IL-treated biomass and a mechanistic understanding that could be further leveraged to develop efficient microbial bioprocesses.

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