Microorganisms which can assimilate tropate were screened from soil. Among them, we found a microorganism which has an ability to convert α-methyltropate to optically active α-phenylpropionate, and it was identified as Rhodococcus sp. KU1314. Substrate specificity of the microorganism has been studied. When the aryl group was phenyl, 4-methoxyphenyl and 2-naphthyl, the substrate gave optically active α-propionate in good yields. To estimate the reaction mechanism, some compounds considered to be the intermediates were subjected to the reaction. Both enantiomers of α-methyltropate were converted to (R)-α-phenylpropionate with almost the same enantiomeric excess (68 and 72% from R-and S-enantiomers, respectively) and yield (605 and 48% from R-and S-enantiomers, respectively).
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