Clostridium acetobutylicum

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Clostridium acetobutylicum
Clostridium acetobutylicum.jpg
Scientific classification
C. acetobutylicum

Clostridium acetobutylicum, ATCC 824, is a commercially valuable bacterium sometimes called the "Weizmann Organism", after Jewish-Russian-born Chaim Weizmann. A senior lecturer at the University of Manchester, England, he used them in 1916 as a bio-chemical tool to produce at the same time, jointly, acetone, ethanol, and butanol from starch. The method has been described since as the ABE process, (Acetone Butanol Ethanol fermentation process), yielding 3 parts of acetone, 6 of butanol, and 1 of ethanol. Acetone was used in the important wartime task of casting cordite. The alcohols were used to produce vehicle fuels and synthetic rubber.

Unlike yeast, which can digest only sugar into alcohol and carbon dioxide, C. acetobutylicum and other Clostridia can digest whey, sugar, starch, cellulose and perhaps certain types of lignin, yielding butanol, propionic acid, ether, and glycerin.

In genetic engineering[edit]

In 2008, a strain of Escherichia coli was genetically engineered to synthesize butanol; the genes were derived from Clostridium acetobutylicum.[1][2] In 2013, the first microbial production of short-chain alkanes was reported[3] - which is a considerable step toward the production of gasoline. One of the crucial enzymes - a fatty acyl-CoA reductase - came from Clostridium acetobutylicum.

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External links[edit]


  1. ^ M. Goho, Alexandra (2008-01-16). "Better Bugs for Making Butanol". MIT Technology Review.
  2. ^ Atsumi, S.; Hanai, T.; Liao, JC. (Jan 2008). "Non-fermentative pathways for synthesis of branched-chain higher alcohols as biofuels". Nature. 451 (7174): 86–9. Bibcode:2008Natur.451...86A. doi:10.1038/nature06450. PMID 18172501. S2CID 4413113.
  3. ^ Choi, YJ.; Lee, SY. (Oct 2013). "Microbial production of short-chain alkanes". Nature. 502 (7472): 571–4. Bibcode:2013Natur.502..571C. doi:10.1038/nature12536. PMID 24077097. S2CID 4393929.