Exploiting RNA thermometer-driven molecular bioprocess control as a concept for heterologous rhamnolipid production.

Research paper by Philipp P Noll, Chantal C Treinen, Sven S Müller, Lars L Lilge, Rudolf R Hausmann, Marius M Henkel

Indexed on: 16 Aug '21Published on: 22 Jul '21Published in: Scientific Reports


A key challenge to advance the efficiency of bioprocesses is the uncoupling of biomass from product formation, as biomass represents a by-product that is in most cases difficult to recycle efficiently. Using the example of rhamnolipid biosurfactants, a temperature-sensitive heterologous production system under translation control of a fourU RNA thermometer from Salmonella was established to allow separating phases of preferred growth from product formation. Rhamnolipids as bulk chemicals represent a model system for future processes of industrial biotechnology and are therefore tied to the efficiency requirements in competition with the chemical industry. Experimental data confirms function of the RNA thermometer and suggests a major effect of temperature on specific rhamnolipid production rates with an increase of the average production rate by a factor of 11 between 25 and 38 °C, while the major part of this increase is attributable to the regulatory effect of the RNA thermometer rather than an unspecific overall increase in bacterial metabolism. The production capacity of the developed temperature sensitive-system was evaluated in a simple batch process driven by a temperature switch. Product formation was evaluated by efficiency parameters and yields, confirming increased product formation rates and product-per-biomass yields compared to a high titer heterologous rhamnolipid production process from literature. © 2021. The Author(s).