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Adv Biochem Eng Biotechnol. 2010;121:1-21. doi: 10.1007/10_2009_60.

Morphology of filamentous fungi: linking cellular biology to process engineering using Aspergillus niger.

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Institute of Biochemical Engineering, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Gaussstrasse 17, 38106, Braunschweig, Germany,


In various biotechnological processes, filamentous fungi, e.g. Aspergillus niger, are widely applied for the production of high value-added products due to their secretion efficiency. There is, however, a tangled relationship between the morphology of these microorganisms, the transport phenomena and the related productivity. The morphological characteristics vary between freely dispersed mycelia and distinct pellets of aggregated biomass. Hence, advantages and disadvantages for mycel or pellet cultivation have to be balanced out carefully. Due to this inadequate understanding of morphogenesis of filamentous microorganisms, fungal morphology, along with reproducibility of inocula of the same quality, is often a bottleneck of productivity in industrial production. To obtain an optimisation of the production process it is of great importance to gain a better understanding of the molecular and cell biology of these microorganisms as well as the approaches in biochemical engineering and particle technique, in particular to characterise the interactions between the growth conditions, cell morphology, spore-hyphae-interactions and product formation. Advances in particle and image analysis techniques as well as micromechanical devices and their applications to fungal cultivations have made available quantitative morphological data on filamentous cells. This chapter provides the ambitious aspects of this line of action, focussing on the control and characterisation of the morphology, the transport gradients and the approaches to understand the metabolism of filamentous fungi. Based on these data, bottlenecks in the morphogenesis of A. niger within the complex production pathways from gene to product should be identified and this may improve the production yield.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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