Applied Biochemistry and Biotechnology (v.145, #1-3)

High-resolution Thermogravimetric Analysis For Rapid Characterization of Biomass Composition and Selection of Shrub Willow Varieties by Michelle J. Serapiglia; Kimberly D. Cameron; Arthur J. Stipanovic; Lawrence B. Smart (3-11).
The cultivation of shrub willow (Salix spp.) bioenergy crops is being commercialized in North America, as it has been in Europe for many years. Considering the high genetic diversity and ease of hybridization, there is great potential for genetic improvement of shrub willow through traditional breeding. The State University of New York—College of Environmental Science and Forestry has an extensive breeding program for the genetic improvement of shrub willow for biomass production and for other environmental applications. Since 1998, breeding efforts have produced more than 200 families resulting in more than 5,000 progeny. The goal for this project was to utilize a rapid, low-cost method for the compositional analysis of willow biomass to aid in the selection of willow clones for improved conversion efficiency. A select group of willow clones was analyzed using high-resolution thermogravimetric analysis (HR-TGA), and significant differences in biomass composition were observed. Differences among and within families produced through controlled pollinations were observed, as well as differences by age at time of sampling. These results suggest that HR-TGA has a great promise as a tool for rapid biomass characterization.
Keywords: Cellulose; Hemicellulose; Lignin; Salix ; Wood composition

Assessment of Bermudagrass and Bunch Grasses as Feedstock for Conversion to Ethanol by William F. Anderson; Bruce S. Dien; Sarah K. Brandon; Joy Doran Peterson (13-21).
Research is needed to allow more efficient processing of lignocellulose from abundant plant biomass resources for production to fuel ethanol at lower costs. Potential dedicated feedstock species vary in degrees of recalcitrance to ethanol processing. The standard dilute acid hydrolysis pretreatment followed by simultaneous sacharification and fermentation (SSF) was performed on leaf and stem material from three grasses: giant reed (Arundo donax L.), napiergrass (Pennisetum purpureum Schumach.), and bermudagrass (Cynodon spp). In a separate study, napiergrass, and bermudagrass whole samples were pretreated with esterase and cellulose before fermentation. Conversion via SSF was greatest with two bermudagrass cultivars (140 and 122 mg g−1 of biomass) followed by leaves of two napiergrass genotypes (107 and 97 mg g−1) and two giant reed clones (109 and 85 mg g−1). Variability existed among bermudagrass cultivars for conversion to ethanol after esterase and cellulase treatments, with Tifton 85 (289 mg g) and Coastcross II (284 mg g−1) being superior to Coastal (247 mg g−1) and Tifton 44 (245 mg g−1). Results suggest that ethanol yields vary significantly for feedstocks by species and within species and that genetic breeding for improved feedstocks should be possible.
Keywords: Biomass; Bioethanol; Bermudagrass; Energy crops

The cost of cellulase is still a problem for bioethanol production. As the cellulase of Trichoderma reesei is applicable for producing ethanol from cellulosic materials, the cellulase productivity of this fungus should be increased. Therefore, we attempted to develop a system to isolate the strain with higher degrading ability of a filter paper and superior proliferation characteristics among the conidia treated with the mitotic arrester, colchicine. When green mature conidia of T. reesei RUT C-30 were swollen, autopolyploidized, and incubated in the double-layer selection medium containing Avicel, colonies appeared on the surface earlier than the original strain. When such colonies and the original colony were incubated on the Avicel plates, strain B5, one of the colonies derived from the colchicine-treated conidia, showed superior proliferation characteristics. Moreover, when strain B5 and the original strain were compared in the filter paper degrading ability and the cellulose hydrolyzing activity, strain B5 was also superior to the original strain. It was suspected that superior proliferation characteristics of strain B5 reflects higher filter paper degrading ability. Thus, we concluded that the Trichoderma strain with higher degrading ability of a filter paper and superior proliferation characteristics can be isolated using Avicel plates and the double-layer selection medium.
Keywords: Cellulase; Cellulose; Conidia; Nuclei; Trichoderma ; Filter paper

Traditionally, as much as 80% or more of an ethanol fermentation broth is water that must be removed. This mixture is not only costly to separate but also produces a large aqueous stream that must then be disposed of or recycled. Integrative approaches to water reduction include increasing the biomass concentration during fermentation. In this paper, experimental results are presented for the rheological behavior of high-solids enzymatic cellulose hydrolysis and ethanol fermentation for biomass conversion using Solka Floc as the model feedstock. The experimental determination of the viscosity, shear stress, and shear rate relationships of the 10 to 20% slurry concentrations with constant enzyme concentrations are performed with a variable speed rotational viscometer (2.0 to 200 rpm) at 40 °C. The viscosities of enzymatic suspension observed were in range of 0.0418 to 0.0144, 0.233 to 0.0348, and 0.292 to 0.0447 Pa s for shear rates up to 100 reciprocal seconds at 10, 15, and 20% initial solids (w/v), respectively. Computational fluid dynamics analysis of bioreactor mixing demonstrates the change in bioreactor mixing with increasing biomass concentration. The portion-loading method is shown to be effective for processing high-solids slurries.
Keywords: High-solids fermentation; Rheology; Bioreactors; Non-Newtonian fluids; Computational fluid dynamics (CFD)

The effects of oxygen limitation on xylose fermentation of Neurospora crassa AS3.1602 were studied using batch cultures. The maximum yield of ethanol was 0.34 g/g at oxygen transfer rate (OTR) of 8.4 mmol/L·h. The maximum yield of xylitol was 0.33 g/g at OTR of 5.1 mmol/L·h. Oxygen limitation greatly affected mycelia growth and xylitol and ethanol productions. The specific growth rate (μ) decreased 82% from 0.045 to 0.008 h−1 when OTR changed from 12.6 to 8.4 mmol/L·h. Intracellular metabolites of the pentose phosphate pathway, glycolysis, and tricarboxylic acid cycle were determined at various OTRs. Concentrations of most intracellular metabolites decreased with the increase in oxygen limitation. Intracellular enzyme activities of xylose reductase, xylitol dehydrogenase, and xylulokinase, the first three enzymes in xylose metabolic pathway, decreased with the increase in oxygen limitation, resulting in the decreased xylose uptake rate. Under all tested conditions, transaldolase and transketolase activities always maintained at low levels, indicating a great control on xylose metabolism. The enzyme of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase played a major role in NADPH regeneration, and its activity decreased remarkably with the increase in oxygen limitation.
Keywords: Neurospora crassa ; Oxygen limitation; Xylose; Xylitol; Ethanol

Fermentation of Acid-pretreated Corn Stover to Ethanol Without Detoxification Using Pichia stipitis by Frank K. Agbogbo; Frank D. Haagensen; David Milam; Kevin S. Wenger (53-58).
In this work, the effect of adaptation on P. stipitis fermentation using acid-pretreated corn stover hydrolyzates without detoxification was examined. Two different types of adaptation were employed, liquid hydrolyzate and solid state agar adaptation. Fermentation of 12.5% total solids undetoxified acid-pretreated corn stover was performed in shake flasks at different rotation speeds. At low rotation speed (100 rpm), both liquid hydrolyzate and solid agar adaptation highly improved the sugar consumption rate as well as ethanol production rate compared to the wild-type strains. The fermentation rate was higher for solid agar-adapted strains compared to liquid hydrolyzate-adapted strains. At a higher rotation speed (150 rpm), there was a faster sugar consumption and ethanol production for both the liquid-adapted and the wild-type strains. However, improvements in the fermentation rate between the liquid-adapted and wild strains were less pronounced at the high rotation speed.
Keywords: Corn stover; Ethanol; Sulfuric acid; Pichia stipitis ; Adaptation; Detoxification

Surface-engineered yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae codisplaying Rhizopus oryzae glucoamylase and Streptococcus bovis α-amylase on the cell surface was used for direct production of ethanol from uncooked raw starch. By using 50 g/L cells during batch fermentation, ethanol concentration could reach 53 g/L in 7 days. During repeated batch fermentation, the production of ethanol could be maintained for seven consecutive cycles. For cells immobilized in loofa sponge, the concentration of ethanol could reach 42 g/L in 3 days in a circulating packed-bed bioreactor. However, the production of ethanol stopped thereafter because of limited contact between cells and starch. The bioreactor could be operated for repeated batch production of ethanol, but ethanol concentration dropped to 55% of its initial value after five cycles because of a decrease in cell mass and cell viability in the bioreactor. Adding cells to the bioreactor could partially restore ethanol production to 75% of its initial value.
Keywords: Bioethanol; Immobilized cells; Recombinant cells; Bioreactor

Orientation of adjacent genes has been reported to affect their expression in eukaryotic systems, and metabolic engineering also often makes repeated use of a few promoters to obtain high expression. To improve transcriptional control in heterologous expression, we examined how these factors affect gene expression and enzymatic activity in Saccharomyces cerevisiae. We assembled d-xylose reductase (XYL1) and d-xylitol dehydrogenase (XYL2) in four ways. Each pair of genes was placed in two different tandem (1→2→ or ←1←2), convergent (1→←2), and divergent (←1 2→) orientations in autonomous plasmids. The TEF1 promoter was used to drive XYL1 and the TDH3 promoter to drive XYL2 in each of the constructs. The effects of gene orientation on growth, transcription, and enzyme activity were analyzed. The transcription level as measured by quantitative PCR (q-PCR) correlated with enzyme activities, but our data did not show a significant effect of gene orientation. To test the possible dilution of promoter strength due to multiple use of the same promoter, we examined the level of expression of XYL1 driven by either the TEF1 or TDH3 promoter when carried on a single copy plasmid. We then co-expressed XYL2 from either a single or multicopy plasmid, which was also driven by the same promoter. XYL2 transcript and enzyme expression increased with plasmid copy number, while the expression of XYL1 was constant regardless of the number of other TEF1 or TDH3 promoters present in the cell. According to our data, there is no significant effect of gene orientation or multiple promoter use on gene transcription and translation when genes are expressed from plasmids; however, other factors could affect expression of adjacent genes in chromosomes.
Keywords: Yeast; Metabolic engineering; Promoter saturation; Gene orientation; S. cerevisiae ; Gene expression; Enzyme activities

Bioreactors for H2 Production by Purple Nonsulfur Bacteria by Sergei A. Markov; Paul F. Weaver (79-86).
Two types of laboratory-scale bioreactors were designed for H2 production by purple nonsulfur bacteria. The bioreactors employed a unique type of hydrogenase activity found in some photosynthetic bacteria that functions in darkness to shift CO (and H2O) into H2 (and CO2). The mass transport of gaseous CO into an aqueous bacterial suspension was the rate-limiting step and the main challenge for bioreactor design. Hollow-fiber and bubble-train bioreactors employing immobilized and free-living bacteria have proven effective for enhancing the mass transfer of CO. The hollow-fiber bioreactor was designed so that both a growth medium and CO (10% in N2) passed from the inside of the fibers to the outside within the bioreactor. Bacteria were immobilized on the outer surface of the hollow fibers. Hydrogen production from CO at an average rate of 125 ml g cdw−1 h−1 (maximum rate of 700 ml g cdw−1 h−1) was observed for more than 8 months. The bubble-train bioreactor was built using polyvinyl chloride (PVC) tubing, wound helically on a vertical cylindrical supporting structure. Small bubbles containing CO were injected continuously through a needle/septum connection from the gas reservoir (20% CO). Up to 140 ml g cdw−1 h−1 of H2 production activity was observed using this bioreactor for more than 10 days.
Keywords: Biohydrogen; Purple bacteria; Bioreactor; Water–gas shift reaction; Hollow fibers

Solid-state Fermentation of Xylanase from Penicillium canescens 10–10c in a Multi-layer-packed Bed Reactor by Antoine A. Assamoi; Jacqueline Destain; Frank Delvigne; Georges Lognay; Philippe Thonart (87-98).
Xylanase is produced by Penicillium canescens 10–10c from soya oil cake in static conditions using solid-state fermentation. The impact of several parameters such as the nature and the size of inoculum, bed-loading, and aeration is evaluated during the fermentation process. Mycelial inoculum gives more production than conidial inoculum. Increasing the quantity of inoculum enhances slightly xylanase production. Forced aeration induces more sporulation of strain and reduces xylanase production. However, forced moistened air improves the production compared to production obtained with forced dry air. In addition, increasing bed-loading reduces the specific xylanase production likely due to the incapacity of the Penicillium strain to grow deeply in the fermented soya oil cake mass. Thus, the best cultivation conditions involve mycelial inoculum form, a bed loading of 1-cm height and passive aeration. The maximum xylanase activity is obtained after 7 days of fermentation and attains 10,200 U/g of soya oil cake. These levels are higher than those presented in the literature and, therefore, show all the potentialities of this stock and this technique for the production of xylanase.
Keywords: Multi-layer-packed bed reactor; Penicillium canescens ; Solid-state fermentation; Soya oil cake; Xylanase

Thermophilic ethanol fermentation of wet-exploded wheat straw hydrolysate was investigated in a continuous immobilized reactor system. The experiments were carried out in a lab-scale fluidized bed reactor (FBR) at 70°C. Undetoxified wheat straw hydrolysate was used (3–12% dry matter), corresponding to sugar mixtures of glucose and xylose ranging from 12 to 41 g/l. The organism, thermophilic anaerobic bacterium Thermoanaerobacter BG1L1, exhibited significant resistance to high levels of acetic acid (up to 10 g/l) and other metabolic inhibitors present in the hydrolysate. Although the hydrolysate was not detoxified, ethanol yield in a range of 0.39–0.42 g/g was obtained. Overall, sugar efficiency to ethanol was 68–76%. The reactor was operated continuously for approximately 143 days, and no contamination was seen without the use of any agent for preventing bacterial infections. The tested microorganism has considerable potential to be a novel candidate for lignocellulose bioconversion into ethanol. The work reported here also demonstrates that the use of FBR configuration might be a viable approach for thermophilic anaerobic ethanol fermentation.
Keywords: Ethanol; Wet-explosion; Thermophilic anaerobic bacteria; Wheat straw; Fluidized bed reactor; Lignocellulose

Succinic Acid Production from Cheese Whey using Actinobacillus succinogenes 130 Z by Caixia Wan; Yebo Li; Abolghasem Shahbazi; Shuangning Xiu (111-119).
Actinobacillus succinogenes 130 Z was used to produce succinic acid from cheese whey in this study. At the presence of external CO2 supply, the effects of initial cheese whey concentration, pH, and inoculum size on the succinic acid production were studied. The by-product formation during the fermentation process was also analyzed. The highest succinic acid yield of 0.57 was obtained at initial cheese whey concentration of 50 g/L, while the highest succinic acid productivity of 0.58 g h−1 L−1 was obtained at initial cheese whey concentration of 100 g/L. Increase in pH and inoculum size caused higher succinic acid yield and productivity. At the preferred fermentation condition of pH 6.8, inoculum size of 5% and initial cheese whey concentration of 50 g/L, succinic acid yield of 0.57, and productivity of 0.44 g h−1 L−1 were obtained. Acetic acid and formic acid were the main by-products throughout the fermentation run of 48 h. It is feasible to produce succinic acid using lactose from cheese whey as carbon resource by A. succinogenes 130 Z.
Keywords: Succinic acid; Cheese whey; Lactose; Fermentation; Actinobacillus succinogenes