Adv Appl Microbiol 2018 16;103:143-221. Epub 2018 Mar 16.
Institute of Microbiology and Biotechnology, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.
Anaerobic bacterial gas fermentation gains broad interest in various scientific, social, and industrial fields. This microbial process is carried out by a specific group of bacterial strains called acetogens. All these strains employ the Wood-Ljungdahl pathway but they belong to different taxonomic groups. Here we provide an overview of the metabolism of acetogens and naturally occurring products. Characteristics of 61 strains were summarized and selected acetogens described in detail. Acetobacterium woodii, Clostridium ljungdahlii, and Moorella thermoacetica serve as model organisms. Results of approaches such as genome-scale modeling, proteomics, and transcriptomics are discussed. Metabolic engineering of acetogens can be used to expand the product portfolio to platform chemicals and to study different aspects of cell physiology. Moreover, the fermentation of gases requires specific reactor configurations and the development of the respective technology, which can be used for an industrial application. Even though the overall process will have a positive effect on climate, since waste and greenhouse gases could be converted into commodity chemicals, some legislative barriers exist, which hamper successful exploitation of this technology.