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J Biotechnol. 2011 Dec 20;156(4):286-301. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiotec.2011.06.017. Epub 2011 Jun 23.

Lactic acid production from lignocellulose-derived sugars using lactic acid bacteria: overview and limits.

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Laboratory of Microbial Technology, Division of Applied Molecular Microbiology and Biomass Chemistry, Department of Bioscience and Biotechnology, Faculty of Agriculture, Graduate School, Kyushu University, Hakozaki, Higashi-ku, Fukuoka, Japan.


Lactic acid is an industrially important product with a large and rapidly expanding market due to its attractive and valuable multi-function properties. The economics of lactic acid production by fermentation is dependent on many factors, of which the cost of the raw materials is very significant. It is very expensive when sugars, e.g., glucose, sucrose, starch, etc., are used as the feedstock for lactic acid production. Therefore, lignocellulosic biomass is a promising feedstock for lactic acid production considering its great availability, sustainability, and low cost compared to refined sugars. Despite these advantages, the commercial use of lignocellulose for lactic acid production is still problematic. This review describes the "conventional" processes for producing lactic acid from lignocellulosic materials with lactic acid bacteria. These processes include: pretreatment of the biomass, enzyme hydrolysis to obtain fermentable sugars, fermentation technologies, and separation and purification of lactic acid. In addition, the difficulties associated with using this biomass for lactic acid production are especially introduced and several key properties that should be targeted for low-cost and advanced fermentation processes are pointed out. We also discuss the metabolism of lignocellulose-derived sugars by lactic acid bacteria.

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