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Appl Microbiol. 1971 Mar;21(3):511-5.

Production of bacterial cells from methane.


A mixed methane-oxidizing bacterial culture capable of stable and predictable growth in continuous culture was isolated. The culture consisted of two types of gram-negative nonsporulating rods resembling pseudomonads. The culture grew well at 45 C on an inorganic medium without asepsis. Specific metal requirements for Ca(2+), Cu(2+), MoO(4) (2-), Zn(2+), Mn(2+), Mg(2+), and Fe(3+) (or Fe(2+)) were shown. The cells grown in continuous culture contained 11.7 to 12.1% total nitrogen. From an animal nutrition standpoint, the distribution of amino acids was satisfactory. The continuous fermentation was operated over a range of steady-state dilution rates from 0.085 to 0.301 hr(-1). The maximum specific growth rate for the culture, mu(max), was 0.303 hr(-1) (doubling time 2.29 hr). The average yield for all fermentations analyzed was 0.616 g (dry weight of cells per g of methane used and 0.215 g (dry weight) of cells per g of oxygen used. The yields on both methane and oxygen were higher for the oxygen-limited than for the methane-limited fermentations. The maximum productivity attained in the fermentor was 2.39 g (dry weight) of cells per hr per liter at a dilution rate of 0.187 hr(-1) and a cell concentration of 12.8 g (dry weight) of cells per liter. The limit on maximum cell productivity was determined only by the mass transfer rate of oxygen in the fermentor. The simultaneous volumetric mass-transfer coefficients (k(L)a in hr(-1)) for oxygen and methane were determined. The results appear to indicate an oxygen to methane mass-transfer coefficient ratio of approximately 1.4.

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