Selective reduction of xylose to xylitol from a mixture of hemicellulosic sugars

Nikhil U. Nair, Huimin Zhao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The biocatalytic reduction of d-xylose to xylitol requires separation of the substrate from l-arabinose, another major component of hemicellulosic hydrolysate. This step is necessitated by the innate promiscuity of xylose reductases, which can efficiently reduce l-arabinose to l-arabinitol, an unwanted byproduct. Unfortunately, due to the epimeric nature of d-xylose and l-arabinose, separation can be difficult, leading to high production costs. To overcome this issue, we engineered an E. coli strain to efficiently produce xylitol from d-xylose with minimal production of l-arabinitol byproduct. By combining this strain with a previously engineered xylose reductase mutant, we were able to eliminate l-arabinitol formation and produce xylitol to near 100% purity from an equiweight mixture of d-xylose, l-arabinose, and d-glucose.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)462-468
Number of pages7
JournalMetabolic Engineering
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2010


  • Arabinitol
  • Biocatalysis
  • Hemicellulose
  • Selectivity
  • Xylitol
  • Xylose reductase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Bioengineering
  • Biotechnology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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