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Michael Köpke, Monica L Gerth, Danielle J Maddock, Alexander P Mueller, FungMin Liew, Séan D Simpson, and Wayne M Patrick, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, 2014, 80, 3394-3403
Some bacteria can grow by using carbon monoxide or carbon dioxide as their sole source of energy and carbon. They have attracted attention because of their potential for producing biofuels and chemicals while simultaneously lowering industrial greenhouse gas emissions. We have identified and characterized the enzymes used by one such bacterium, Clostridium autoethanogenum, to produce the valuable chemical intermediate 2,3-butanediol. One of the enzymes that is critical for 2,3-butanediol production is a broad-specificity alcohol dehydrogenase. This enzyme is highly active toward the non-physiological substrate acetone, meaning that C. autoethanogenum is also effective at converting acetone to isopropanol.