Environmental stresses are usually active during the process of microbial fermentation and have significant influence on microbial physiology. Microorganisms have developed a series of strategies to resist environmental stresses. For instance, they maintain the integrity and fluidity of cell membranes by modulating their structure and composition, and the permeability and activities of transporters are adjusted to control nutrient transport and ion exchange. Certain transcription factors are activated to enhance gene expression, and specific signal transduction pathways are induced to adapt to environmental changes. Besides, microbial cells also have well-established repair mechanisms that protect their macromolecules against damages inflicted by environmental stresses. Oxidative, hyperosmotic, thermal, acid, and organic solvent stresses are significant in microbial fermentation. In this review, we summarize the modus operandi by which these stresses act on cellular components, as well as the corresponding resistance mechanisms developed by microorganisms. Then, we discuss the applications of these stress resistance mechanisms on the production of industrially important chemicals. Finally, we prospect the application of systems biology and synthetic biology in the identification of resistant mechanisms and improvement of metabolic robustness of microorganisms in environmental stresses.
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Huansheng Cao, Du Wei, Yuedong Yang, Yu Shang, Gaoyang Li, Yaoqi Zhou, Qin Ma & Ying Xu
Understanding ethanol-induced stresses and responses in biofuel-producing bacteria at systems level has significant implications in engineering more efficient biofuel producers. We present a computational study of transcriptomic and genomic data of both ethanol-stressed and ethanol-adapted E. coli cells with computationally predicated ethanol-binding proteins and experimentally identified ethanol tolerance genes. Our analysis suggests: (1) ethanol damages cell wall and membrane integrity, causing increased stresses, particularly reactive oxygen species, which damages DNA and reduces the O2 level; (2) decreased cross-membrane proton gradient from membrane damage, coupled with hypoxia, leads to reduced ATP production by aerobic respiration, driving cells to rely more on fatty acid oxidation, anaerobic respiration and fermentation for ATP production; (3) the reduced ATP generation results in substantially decreased synthesis of macromolecules; (4) ethanol can directly bind 213 proteins including transcription factors, altering their functions; (5) all these changes together induce multiple stress responses, reduced biosynthesis, cell viability and growth; and (6) ethanol-adapted E. coli cells restore the majority of these reduced activities through selection of specific genomic mutations and alteration of stress responses, ultimately restoring normal ATP production, macromolecule biosynthesis, and growth. These new insights into the energy and mass balance will inform design of more ethanol-tolerant strains.
Read the full article in Scientific Reports