Abstract: Levulinic acid (LA) is an important chemical building block listed among the top 12 value-added chemicals by the United States Department of Energy, and can be obtained through the hydrolysis of lignocellulosic biomass. Using the same approach as in the catalytic production of LA from biomass, catalytic methods to upgrade LA to higher value chemicals have been investigated. Since the discovery of the catabolic genes and enzymes in the LA metabolic pathway, bioconversion of LA into useful chemicals has attracted attention, and can potentially broaden the range of biochemical products derived from cellulosic biomass. With a brief introduction to the LA catabolic pathway in Pseudomonas spp., this review summarizes the current studies on the microbial conversion of LA into bioproducts, including the recent developments to achieve higher yields through genetic engineering of Escherichia coli cells. Three different types of reactions during the enzymatic conversion of LA are also discussed. Key points: • Levulinic acid is an alternative building block to sugars from cellulosic biomass. • Introduction of levulinic acid bioconversion with natural and engineered microbes. • Initial enzymatic conversion of levulinic acid proceeds via three different pathways. • 4-Hydroxyvalerate is one of the target chemicals for levulinic acid bioconversion.
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