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Appl Environ Microbiol. 1992 Aug;58(8):2583-91.

Response surface analysis of the effects of pH and dilution rate on Ruminococcus flavefaciens FD-1 in cellulose-fed continuous culture.

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Department of Bacteriology, University of Wisconsin-Madison.


The ruminal cellulolytic bacterium Ruminococcus flavefaciens FD-1 was grown in cellulose-fed continuous culture with 20 different combinations of pH and dilution rate (D); the combinations were selected according to the physiological pH range of the organism (6.0 to 7.1) and growth rate of the organism on cellulose (0.017 to 0.10 h-1). A response surface analysis was used to characterize the effects of pH and D on the extent of cellulose consumption, growth yield, soluble sugar concentration, and yields of fermentation products. The response surfaces indicate that pH and D coordinately affect cellulose digestion and growth yield in this organism. As expected, the net cellulose consumption increased with increasing D while the fraction of added cellulose that was utilized decreased with increasing D. The effect of changes in pH within the physiological range on cellulose consumption was smaller than that of changes in D. Cellulose degradation was less sensitive to low pH than to high pH. At low Ds (longer retention times), cellulose degradation did not follow first-order kinetics. This decreased rate of cellulose digestion was not due to poor mixing, limitation by other medium components, or preferential utilization of the more amorphous fraction of the cellulose. The cell yield increased from 0.13 to 0.18 mg of cells per mg of cellulose with increasing Ds from 0.02 to 0.06 h-1 and decreased when the pH was shifted from the optimum of 6.5 to 6.8. The effect of pH on cell yield increased with increasing D. The reduced cell yield at low pH appears to be due to both an increase in maintenance energy requirements and a decrease in true growth yield.

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