Aconitic Acid Recovery from Renewable Feedstock and Review of Chemical and Biological Applications
Aconitic acid (propene-1,2,3-tricarboxylic acid) is the most prevalent 6-carbon organic acid that accumulates in sugarcane and sweet sorghum. As a top value-added chemical, aconitic acid may function as a chemical precursor or intermediate for high-value downstream industrial and biological applications. These downstream applications include use as a bio-based plasticizer, cross-linker, and the formation of valuable and multi-functional polyesters that have also been used in tissue engineering. Aconitic acid also plays various biological roles within cells as an intermediate in the tricarboxylic acid cycle and in conferring unique survival advantages to some plants as an antifeedant, antifungal, and means of storing fixed pools of carbon. Aconitic acid has also been reported as a fermentation inhibitor, anti-inflammatory, and a potential nematicide. Since aconitic acid can be sustainably sourced from renewable, inexpensive sources such as sugarcane, molasses, and sweet sorghum syrup, there is enormous potential to provide multiple streams of additional income to the sugar industry through downstream industrial and biological applications that we discuss in this review.