Thermodynamic favorability of end products of anaerobic glucose metabolism

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The eQuilibrator component contribution method allows calculation of the overall Gibbs energy changes for conversion of glucose to a wide range of final products in the absence of other oxidants. Values are presented for all possible combinations of products with up to three carbons and selected others. The most negative Gibbs energy change is for the formation of graphite and water (-499 kJ mol-1) followed by CH4 and CO2 (-430 kJ mol-1), the observed final products of anaerobic digestion. Other favored products (with various combinations having Gibbs energy changes between-300 and-367 kJ mol-1) are short-chain alkanes, fatty acids, dicarboxylic acids, and even hexane and benzene. The most familiar products, lactate and ethanol + CO2, are less favored (Gibbs energy changes of-206 and-265 kJ mol-1 respectively). The values presented offer an interesting perspective on observed metabolism and its evolutionary origins as well as on cells engineered for biotechnological purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)15843-15849
Number of pages7
JournalACS Omega
Issue number26
Early online date25 Jun 2020
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jul 2020


  • anaerobic glucose metabolism
  • thermodynamics
  • predictions
  • metabolism
  • Gibbs energy


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