Comparing in situ removal strategies for improving styrene bioproduction

Rebekah McKenna, Luis Moya, Matthew McDaniel, David Nielsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


As an important conventional monomer compound, the biological production of styrene carries significant promise with respect to creating novel sustainable materials. Since end-product toxicity presently limits styrene production by previously engineered Escherichia coli, in situ product removal by both solvent extraction and gas stripping were explored as process-based strategies for circumventing its inhibitory effects. In solvent extraction, the addition of bis(2-ethylhexyl)phthalate offered the greatest productivity enhancement, allowing net volumetric production of 836 ± 64 mg/L to be reached, representing a 320 % improvement over single-phase cultures. Gas stripping rates, meanwhile, were controlled by rates of bioreactor agitation and, to a greater extent, aeration. A periodic gas stripping protocol ultimately enabled up to 561 ± 15 mg/L styrene to be attained. Lastly, by relieving the effects of styrene toxicity, new insight was gained regarding subsequent factors limiting its biosynthesis in E. coli and strategies for future strain improvement are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)165-174
Number of pages10
JournalBioprocess and biosystems engineering
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2015


  • Gas stripping
  • In situ product recovery
  • Solvent extraction
  • Styrene

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering


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