A Short History of the Birth of the Amino Acid Industry in Japan

Authored by: S. Kinoshita

Handbook of Corynebacterium glutamicum

Print publication date:  March  2005
Online publication date:  March  2005

Print ISBN: 9780849318214
eBook ISBN: 9781420039696
Adobe ISBN:


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In 1956, we started a research program at Kyowa Hakko Kogyo Co., Ltd., Tokyo, that was aimed at obtaining a microorganism that could accumulate glutamic acid extracellularly. Among many isolates we found a colony that might be fit for the purpose. We named this isolate Micrococcus glutamicus No. 534. Further study revealed that this microorganism could accumulate glutamic acid at a limiting concentration of biotin present in the medium. This suggested that biotin must play a key role in the physiology of the cells and their glutamate-forming capability. By microscopic observation of cultures at various stages, we found that the cell form can change considerably. For this reason, and due to further taxonomical studies, we renamed the bacterium Corynebacterium glutamicum. From mutational work on this organism, together with discoveries regarding key regulatory features, it was found that many amino acids, such as lysine, arginine, ornithine, threonine, etc., could be accumulated. Most of these amino acids are now produced commercially.

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