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Bioresour Technol. 2009 Dec;100(23):5955-65. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2009.06.084. Epub 2009 Jul 15.

Characterization of the impact of acetate and lactate on ethanolic fermentation by Thermoanaerobacter ethanolicus.

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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN 37996, USA.


Ethanolic fermentation of simple sugars is an important step in the production of bioethanol as a renewable fuel. Significant levels of organic acids, which are generally considered inhibitory to microbial metabolism, could be accumulated during ethanolic fermentation, either as a fermentation product or as a by-product generated from pre-treatment steps. To study the impact of elevated concentrations of organic acids on ethanol production, varying levels of exogenous acetate or lactate were added into cultures of Thermoanaerobacter ethanolicus strain 39E with glucose, xylose or cellobiose as the sole fermentation substrate. Our results found that lactate was in general inhibitory to ethanolic fermentation by strain 39E. However, the addition of acetate showed an unexpected stimulatory effect on ethanolic fermentation of sugars by strain 39E, enhancing ethanol production by up to 394%. Similar stimulatory effects of acetate were also evident in two other ethanologens tested, T. ethanolicus X514, and Clostridium thermocellum ATCC 27405, suggesting the potentially broad occurrence of acetate stimulation of ethanolic fermentation. Analysis of fermentation end product profiles further indicated that the uptake of exogenous acetate as a carbon source might contribute to the improved ethanol yield when 0.1% (w/v) yeast extract was added as a nutrient supplement. In contrast, when yeast extract was omitted, increases in sugar utilization appeared to be the likely cause of higher ethanol yields, suggesting that the characteristics of acetate stimulation were growth condition-dependent. Further understanding of the physiological and metabolic basis of the acetate stimulation effect is warranted for its potential application in improving bioethanol fermentation processes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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