Clostridium acetobutylicum

Clostridium acetobutylicum
Clostridium acetobutylicum
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Bacteria
Division: Firmicutes
Class: Clostridia
Order: Clostridiale
Family: Clostridiaceae
Genus: Clostridium
Species: C. acetobutylicum

Clostridium acetobutylicum, ATCC 824, is included in the genus Clostridium, is a commercially valuable bacterium sometimes called the "Weizmann Organism", after Jewish-Russian born Chaim Weizmann, then senior lecturer at the University of Manchester, England, used them in 1916 as a bio-chemical tool to produce at the same time, jointly, acetone, ethanol and butanol from starch. The method was described since as the ABE process, (Acetone Butanol Ethanol fermentation process), yielding 3 parts of acetone, 6 of butanol and 1 of ethanol, reducing the former difficulties to make cordite, an explosive, from acetone and paving the way also, for instance, to obtain vehicle fuels and synthetic rubber, based amongst others on the pioneering work of PolishRussian Sergei Vasiljevich Lebedev (1874–1934) using butanol polymerized with metallic sodium during the World War II for vehicles tyres with natural rubber imports from Malaysia and Brazil blocked by the British.

Another Russian-American scientist , Ivan Ostromislensky, (1880–1939), is credited with work , circa 1910 - 1913, on synthetic rubber at Moscow State University and at Bogatyr, Russia. he was a traveler, entreprener and fine researcher at Zurich, including chemotherapy drugs for syphilis, such as Salvarsan, in the 1910s who emigrated in 1921, from the University of Latvia, Riga, by then an country independent of the former Russian Empire, to the U. S. A. invited to work from May 1922 by Dr.A. Hopkinson at the Labs of the United States Rubber Company and Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company, and setting up his own pharmaceutical drugs labs in the USA.

Ostromislensky's work in the 1930s, as a new American citizen, for Union Carbide Corporation is today recognized as important for the U.S. military effort during World War II, including those reactions whereby ethanol is oxidized to acetaldehyde, which reacts with additional ethanol over a tantalum-promoted porous silica catalyst at 325–350 °C to yield butadiene.

The A.B.E. process was an industry standard until the late 1940s, some factories having been set up meanwhile by Joseph Stalin advisers at some of the SSSR Central Asia republics now independent from the actual Russian Federation, manufacturing some 50,000 Tons/year, but low oil costs till 1973 drove after the seventies to so called more-efficient processes based on hydrocarbon cracking and petroleum distillation techniques.

Increases in world population and higher life expectancies for many hundreds of millions of emerging countries, coupled with outstanding progress in the bio-technological field, opens once again the question of whether or not (or to what extent) A.B.E.-like processes could be important for the future.


Other types of clostridium bacteria

Clostridium consists of around 100 species that include common free-living bacteria as well as important pathogens. There are four main species responsible for disease in humans:

  • C. botulinum, an organism that produces botulinum toxin in food/wound and can cause botulism. Honey sometimes contains spores of Clostridium botulinum, which may cause infant botulism in humans one year old and younger. The toxin eventually paralyzes the infant's breathing muscles. Adults and older children can eat honey safely, because Clostridia do not compete well with the other rapidly growing bacteria present in the GI (Gastrointestinal) tract. This same toxin is known as "Botox" and is used cosmetically to paralyze facial muscles to reduce the signs of aging; it also has numerous therapeutic uses.
  • C. difficile, which can flourish when other bacteria in the gut are killed during antibiotic therapy, leading to pseudomembranous colitis (a cause of antibiotic-associated diarrhea).
  • C. perfringens, formerly called C. welchii, causes a wide range of symptoms, from food poisoning to gas gangrene. Also responsible for enterotoxemia (also known as "overeating disease" or "pulpy kidney disease") in sheep and goats. C. perfringens also takes the place of yeast in the making of salt rising bread. The name perfringens means "breaking through, breaking in pieces".
  • C. tetani, the causative organism of tetanus. The name derives from "of a tension", referring to the tension (caused by tetanus) in the muscles.
  • C. sordellii has been linked to the deaths of more than a dozen women after childbirth. Fatal Clostridium sordellii infections after medical abortions.Meites E, Zane S, Gould C; N Engl J Med. 2010 Sep 30;363(14):1382-3.

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

Note: glycerin is a hard to get rid of waste product of biodiesel production. It can be now be made useful with the bacteria called Clostridium pasteurianum. Website: Excerpt: One solution is under development by a graduate student at the University of Alabama, who has identified a glycerol-loving bacteria called Clostidium pasteurianum. This little bug occurs naturally in soil and is known for its nitrogen-fixing abilities, and the researcher found that it has other talents, too. When it digests glycerol, it generates at least five valuable byproducts: butanol (which can sub directly for gasoline) , propanediol, ethanol, acetic acid and butyric acid. The next step is to develop more efficient strains of the bacteria.

Some genetic engineering manipulations

James Liao, a chemical engineer at the University of California, Los Angeles, developed a method to insert genes from Clostridium acetobutylicum which are responsible for production of butanol into the bacterium Escherichia coli. [1] [2]

See also


  • D.T. Jones , D. R. Woods , Acetone-butanol fermentation revisited. Microbiol Rev. 1986 December; 50(4): 484–524. PMCID: PMC373084.pages 484 - 524.
  • Ronald M. Atlas, Richard Barta, Microbial Ecology, Fundamentals and Applications, Benjamin/Cummings Publishing Co. Inc., Redwood City, CA, 3rd edition, 563 pages.ISBN 0-8053-0653-6
  • Microbial Processes: Promising Technologies for Developing Countries, National Academy of Sciences, Washington, (1979).

See,Internet: Probably, you can see, for immediate results, (consulted May 2011): 27 hits 6 Fuel and Energy 107-123 42 hits 7 Waste Treatment and Utilization 124-141 36 hits 8 Cellulose Conversion 142-157

Further reading

External links

ISSN: 01757598 CODEN: AMBID DOI: 10.1007/s00253-010-2707-z PubMed ID: 20535464 Document Type: Short Survey Source Type: Journal

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