The Phosphotransferase System in Solventogenic Clostridia

Wilfrid James Mitchell*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    21 Citations (Scopus)


    The acetone-butanol-ethanol fermentation employing solventogenic clostridia was a major industrial process during the 20th century, but declined for economic reasons. In recent times, interest in the process has been revived due to the perceived potential of butanol as a superior biofuel. Redevelopment of an efficient fermentation process will require a detailed understanding of the physiology of carbohydrate utilization by the bacteria. Genome sequences have revealed that, as in other anaerobes, the phosphotransferase system (PTS) and associated regulatory functions are likely to play an important role in sugar uptake and its regulation. The genomes of Clostridium acetobutylicum and C. beijerinckii encode 13 and 43 phosphotransferases, respectively. Characterization of clostridial phosphotransferases has demonstrated that they are involved in the uptake and phosphorylation of hexoses, hexose derivatives and disaccharides, although the functions of many systems remain to be determined. Glucose is a dominant sugar which represses the utilization of other carbon sources, including the non-PTS pentose sugars xylose and arabinose, by the clostridia. Targeting of the CcpA-dependent mechanism of carbon catabolite repression has been shown to be an effective strategy for reducing the repressive effects of glucose, indicating potential for developing strains with improved fermentation performance.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)129-142
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of Molecular Microbiology and Biotechnology
    Issue number2-3
    Early online date9 Jul 2015
    Publication statusPublished - Jul 2015


    • ABE fermentation
    • Butanol
    • Carbon catabolite repression
    • Clostridia
    • Phosphotransferase system
    • Solventogenesis

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Biotechnology
    • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
    • Molecular Biology
    • Microbiology


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