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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2009 Feb;82(2):231-9. doi: 10.1007/s00253-008-1749-y. Epub 2008 Nov 18.

Xylose anaerobic conversion by open-mixed cultures.

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  • 1Department of Biotechnology, Delft University of Technology, Julianalaan 67, 2628 BC Delft, The Netherlands.


Xylose is, after glucose, the dominant sugar in agricultural wastes. In anaerobic environments, carbohydrates are converted into volatile fatty acids and alcohols. These can be used as building blocks in biotechnological or chemical processes, e.g., to produce bioplastics. In this study, xylose fermentation by mixed microbial cultures was investigated and compared with glucose under the same conditions. The product spectrum obtained with both substrates was comparable. It was observed that, in the case of xylose, a higher fraction of the carbon was converted into catabolic products (butyrate, acetate, and ethanol) and the biomass yield was approximately 20% lower than on glucose, 0.16 versus 0.21 Cmol X/Cmol S. This lower yield is likely related to the need of an extra ATP during xylose uptake. When submitted to a pulse of glucose, the population cultivated on xylose could instantaneously convert the glucose. No substrate preference was observed when glucose and xylose were fed simultaneously to the continuously operated bioreactor.

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