Sorbitol Can Be Produced Not Only Chemically But Also Biotechnologically

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Sorbitol, a polyol found in many fruits, is attracting increasing industrial interest as a sweetener, humectant, texturizer, and softener. It is principally produced by chemical means. The bacterium Zymomonas mobilis is able to produce sorbitol together with gluconic acid from fructose and glucose, respectively. This is possible in a one-step reaction via the enzyme glucose-fructose oxidoreductase, so far only known from Z. mobilis. The possibilities for the production of sorbitol by Z. mobilis are discussed also under the aspect of an industrial process and compared with the current chemical as well as other microbiologic processes. The production process by Z. mobilis shows economic possibilities for certain countries, such as Brazil, considering only the products sorbitol and ethanol as an important byproduct. For the other byproduct, gluconic acid, further studies for its partial substitution must be conducted.

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