Biosensor-informed engineering of Cupriavidus necator H16 for autotrophic D-mannitol production

Erik K.R. Hanko, Gillian Sherlock, Nigel P. Minton, Naglis Malys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Cupriavidus necator H16 is one of the most researched carbon dioxide (CO2)-fixing bacteria. It can store carbon in form of the polymer polyhydroxybutyrate and generate energy by aerobic hydrogen oxidation under lithoautotrophic conditions, making C. necator an ideal chassis for the biological production of value-added compounds from waste gases. Despite its immense potential, however, the experimental evidence of C. necator utilisation for autotrophic biosynthesis of chemicals is limited. Here, we genetically engineered C. necator for the high-level de novo biosynthesis of the industrially relevant sugar alcohol mannitol directly from Calvin-Benson-Bassham (CBB) cycle intermediates. To identify optimal mannitol production conditions in C. necator, a mannitol-responsive biosensor was applied for screening of mono- and bifunctional mannitol 1-phosphate dehydrogenases (MtlDs) and mannitol 1-phosphate phosphatases (M1Ps). We found that MtlD/M1P from brown alga Ectocarpus siliculosus performed overall the best under heterotrophic growth conditions and was selected to be chromosomally integrated. Consequently, autotrophic fermentation of recombinant C. necator yielded up to 3.9 g/L mannitol, representing a substantial improvement over mannitol biosynthesis using recombinant cyanobacteria. Importantly, we demonstrate that at the onset of stationary growth phase nearly 100% of carbon can be directed from the CBB cycle into mannitol through the glyceraldehyde 3-phosphate and fructose 6-phosphate intermediates. This study highlights for the first time the potential of C. necator to generate sugar alcohols from CO2 utilising precursors derived from the CBB cycle.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)24-34
Number of pages11
JournalMetabolic Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 20 Feb 2022


  • Autotrophic fermentation
  • Biosensor
  • C. necator H16
  • Calvin cycle
  • Mannitol


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