Oxidation of a mixture of 2-(R) and 2-(S)-heptanol to 2-heptanone by Saccharomyces cerevisiae in a biphasic system

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The ability of dehydrated baker's yeast (Sigma, type II) to carry out oxidation reactions was investigated using a mixture of (S)- and (R)-enantiomers of 2-heptanol operated in a biphasic system with hexadecane as the organic layer. The commercial material could be used without preliminary growth provided the external trehalose was removed by centrifugation. It afforded a non enantiospecific biocatalyst with high activity, and 2-heptanone could be obtained in up to 10 g L−1 after 30 h reaction with a molar yield close to 100% with this material. Yeast cells harvested in the stationary phase of aerobic growth exhibited only a (S)-oxidation activity, which gave a process for the resolution of (R)-enantiomers of secondary alcohols. These results led to the assumption that at least two enzymes were acting in this process, one of them probably being the yeast alcohol dehydrogenase (YADH), which is known to exhibit a (S)-enantioselectivity in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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