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Summary

In a continuous culture under phosphate limitation the metabolism of Clostridium acetobutylicum depends on the external pH level. By comparing seven steady-state conditions between pH 5.7 and pH 4.5 we show that the switch from acidogenesis to solventogenesis occurs between pH 5.3 and pH 5.0 with an intermediate state at pH 5.1. Here, an integrative study is presented investigating how a changing external pH level affects the clostridial acetone–butanol–ethanol (ABE) fermentation pathway. This is of particular interest as the biotechnological production of n-butanol as biofuel has recently returned into the focus of industrial applications. One prerequisite is the furthering of the knowledge of the factors determining the solvent production and their integrative regulations. We have mathematically analysed the influence of pH-dependent specific enzyme activities of branch points of the metabolism on the product formation. This kinetic regulation was compared with transcriptomic regulation regarding gene transcription and the proteomic profile. Furthermore, both regulatory mechanisms were combined yielding a detailed projection of their individual and joint effects on the product formation. The resulting model represents an important platform for future developments of industrial butanol production based on C. acetobutylicum.