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Process for preparing alpha -hydroxy acids using microorganism and novel microorganism

PCT No. PCT/JP97/00578 Sec. 371 Date Aug. 11, 1998 Sec. 102(e) Date Aug. 11, 1998 PCT Filed Feb. 27, 1997 PCT Pub. No. WO97/32030 PCT Pub. Date Sep. 4, 1997A process for preparing alpha -hydroxy acids represented by the general formula (II): RCH(OH)COOH (wherein R represents a hydrogen atom, an optionally substituted C1-C6 alkyl group, an optionally substituted C2-C6 alkenyl group, an optionally substituted C1-C6 alkoxy group, an optionally substituted aryl group, an optionally substituted aryloxy group, or an optionally substituted heterocyclic group) by allowing a microorganism to act on alpha -hydroxy nitriles (I): RCH(OH)CN (wherein R is as defined above) to hydrolyze and convert the alpha -hydroxy nitrites to alpha -hydroxy acids (II), wherein the alpha -hydroxy acids (II) are produced and accumulated in an aqueous solvent by a microorganism having the concentration resistance to the alpha -hydroxy nitrites (I) and/or alpha -hydroxy acids (II) and durability preferably in the presence of a cyanide, and harvested. According to this process, the use of the microorganism having the concentration resistance to the alpha -hydroxy nitriles (I) and/or alpha -hydroxy acids (II) and durability high enough to permit the activity to persist for a long period of time enables alpha -hydroxy acids (II) to be accumulated in high concentrations and cell bodies to be repeatedly used, and hence enables alpha -hydroxy acids (II) to be efficiently prepared. The addition of a cyanide to the reaction system results in more efficient preparation of alpha -hydroxy acids (II).
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