Wild-type Escherichia coli was adapted to syntrophic growth with Methanobacterium formicicum for glycerol fermentation over 44 weeks. Succinate production by E. coli started to increase in the early stages of syntrophic growth. Genetic analysis of the cultured E. coli population by pooled sequencing at eight time points suggests that (i) rapid evolution occurred through repeated emergence of mutators that introduced a large number of nucleotide variants and (ii) many mutators increased to high frequencies but remained polymorphic throughout the continuous cultivation. The evolved E. coli populations exhibited gains both in fitness and succinate production, but only for growth under glycerol fermentation with M. formicicum (the condition for this laboratory evolution) and not under other growth conditions. The mutant alleles of the 69 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) identified in the adapted E. coli populations were constructed individually in the ancestral wild-type E. coli. We analyzed the phenotypic changes caused by 84 variants, including 15 nonsense variants, and found that FdrAD296Y was the most significant variant leading to increased succinate production. Transcription of fdrA was induced under anaerobic allantoin degradation conditions, and FdrA was shown to play a crucial role in oxamate production. The FdrAD296Y variant increased glyoxylate conversion to malate by accelerating oxamate production, which promotes carbon flow through the C4 branch, leading to increased succinate production.
- Allantoin degradation
- Glycerol fermentation