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Biotechnol Bioeng. 2001 Dec 5;75(5):540-9.

Effects of furfural on anaerobic continuous cultivation of Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

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Department of Chemical Reaction Engineering, Chalmers University of Technology, S-412 96 Göteborg, Sweden.


Furfural is an important inhibitor of yeast metabolism in lignocellulose-derived substrates. The effect of furfural on the physiology of Saccharomyces cerevisiae CBS 8066 was investigated using anaerobic continuous cultivations. Experiments were performed with furfural in the feed medium (up to 8.3 g/L) using three different dilution rates (0.095, 0.190, and 0.315 h(-1)). The measured concentration of furfural was low (< 0.1 g/L) at all steady states obtained. However, it was not possible to achieve a steady state at a specific conversion rate of furfural, q(f), higher than approximately 0.15 g/g.h. An increased furfural concentration in the feed caused a decrease in the steady-state glycerol yield. This agreed well with the decreased need for glycerol production as a way to regenerate NAD+, i.e., to function as a redox sink because furfural was reduced to furfuryl alcohol. Transient experiments were also performed by pulse addition of furfural directly into the fermentor. In contrast to the situation at steady-state conditions, both glycerol and furfuryl alcohol yields increased after pulse addition of furfural to the culture. Furthermore, the maximum specific conversion rate of furfural (0.6 g/g.h) in dynamic experiments was significantly higher than what was attainable in the chemostat experiments. The dynamic furfural conversion could be described by the use of a simple Michaelis-Menten-type kinetic model. Also furfural conversion under steady-state conditions could be explained by a Michaelis-Menten-type kinetic model, but with a higher affinity and a lower maximum conversion rate. This indicated the presence of an additional component with a higher affinity, but lower maximum capacity, either in the transport system or in the conversion system of furfural.

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