Production of the long-chain alcohols octanol, decanol, and dodecanol by Escherichia coli

Thomas Hamilton-Kemp, Melissa Newman, Randall Collins, Hesham Elgaali, Keshun Yu, Douglas Archbold

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

52 Scopus citations


As a follow-up to earlier studies on the emission of long-chain alcohols from broth cultures of Gram-negative enteric bacteria, E. coli was examined for the production of 1-octanol, 1-decanol, and 1-dodecanol. Ten strains of E. coli cultured in tryptic soy broth were assayed for volatile metabolites using solid-phase microextraction. Long-chain alcohols were produced by all strains with 1-decanol predominating with production ranging from 23.6 ng mL -1 to 148 ng mL-1. The production of long-chain alcohols followed the onset of the exponential growth phase of the broth culture. Doubling the concentration of glucose (5 g L-1) in the broth had no effect on the concentration of long-chain alcohols produced. Addition of octanoic, decanoic, or dodecanoic acids (as K+ salts) to the broth (100 mg L-1) markedly increased the production of the corresponding alcohols by E. coli, ranging from a 13-fold increase for decanol to a 51-fold increase for dodecanol. However, decanol remained the predominant alcohol detected in all assays. These neutral volatile alcohols may have application as vapor-phase indicators for certain classes of bacteria, particularly, Gram-negative enteric bacteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-86
Number of pages5
JournalCurrent Microbiology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 2005

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology


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