Arabinose as an overlooked sugar for microbial bioproduction of chemical building blocks

Vinod Kumar*, Deepti Agrawal, Rajesh Reddy Bommareddy, M. Ahsanul Islam, Samuel Jacob, Venkatesh Balan, Vijai Singh, Vijay Kumar Thakur, Naveen Kumar Navani, Nigel S. Scrutton

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


The circular economy is anticipated to bring a disruptive transformation in manufacturing technologies. Robust and industrial scalable microbial strains that can simultaneously assimilate and valorize multiple carbon substrates are highly desirable, as waste bioresources contain substantial amounts of renewable and fermentable carbon, which is diverse. Lignocellulosic biomass (LCB) is identified as an inexhaustible and alternative resource to reduce global dependence on oil. Glucose, xylose, and arabinose are the major monomeric sugars in LCB. However, primary research has focused on the use of glucose. On the other hand, the valorization of pentose sugars, xylose, and arabinose, has been mainly overlooked, despite possible assimilation by vast microbial communities. The present review highlights the research efforts that have explicitly proven the suitability of arabinose as the starting feedstock for producing various chemical building blocks via biological routes. It begins by analyzing the availability of various arabinose-rich biorenewable sources that can serve as potential feedstocks for biorefineries. The subsequent section outlines the current understanding of arabinose metabolism, biochemical routes prevalent in prokaryotic and eukaryotic systems, and possible products that can be derived from this sugar. Further, currently, exemplar products from arabinose, including arabitol, 2,3-butanediol, 1,2,3-butanetriol, ethanol, lactic acid, and xylitol are discussed, which have been produced by native and non-native microbial strains using metabolic engineering and genome editing tools. The final section deals with the challenges and obstacles associated with arabinose-based production, followed by concluding remarks and prospects.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages18
JournalCritical Reviews in Biotechnology
Early online date6 Nov 2023
Publication statusFirst published - 6 Nov 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • 1,2,3-butanetriol
  • 2,3-butanediol
  • Arabinose
  • arabitol
  • circular biorefineries
  • ethanol
  • lactic acid
  • metabolic engineering
  • xylitol


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