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Appl Environ Microbiol. 2000 Jun;66(6):2461-70.

Cellulose catabolism by Clostridium cellulolyticum growing in batch culture on defined medium.

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Laboratoire de Biochimie des Bactéries Gram +, Domaine Scientifique Victor Grignard, Faculté des Sciences, Université Henri Poincaré, 54506 Vandoeuvre-lès-Nancy Cédex, France.


A reinvestigation of cellulose degradation by Clostridium cellulolyticum in a bioreactor with pH control of the batch culture and using a defined medium was performed. Depending on cellulose concentration, the carbon flow distribution was affected, showing the high flexibility of the metabolism. With less than 6.7 g of cellulose liter(-1), acetate, ethanol, H(2), and CO(2) were the main end products of the fermentation and cellulose degradation reached more than 85% in 5 days. The electron flow from the glycolysis was balanced by the production of H(2) and ethanol, the latter increasing with increasing initial cellulose concentration. From 6.7 to 29.1 g of cellulose liter(-1), the percentage of cellulose degradation declined; most of the cellulase activity remained on the cellulose fibers, the maximum cell density leveled off, and the carbon flow was reoriented from ethanol to acetate. In addition to that of previously indicated end products, lactate production rose, and, surprisingly enough, pyruvate overflow occurred. Concomitantly the molar growth yield and the energetic yield of the biomass decreased. Growth arrest may be linked to sufficiently high carbon flow, leading to the accumulation of an intracellular inhibitory compound(s), as observed on cellobiose (E. Guedon, M. Desvaux, S. Payot, and H. Petitdemange, Microbiology 145:1831-1838, 1999). These results indicated that bacterial metabolism exhibited on cellobiose was distorted compared to that exhibited on a substrate more closely related to the natural ecosystem of C. cellulolyticum. To overcome growth arrest and to improve degradation at high cellulose concentrations (29.1 g liter(-1)), a reinoculation mode was evaluated. This procedure resulted in an increase in the maximum dry weight of cells (2,175 mg liter(-1)), cellulose solubilization (95%), and end product concentrations compared to a classical batch fermentation with a final dry weight of cells of 580 mg liter(-1) and 45% cellulose degradation within 18 days.

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