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Bioresour Technol. 2013 Nov;148:277-82. doi: 10.1016/j.biortech.2013.08.078. Epub 2013 Aug 20.

Continuous cultivation of photosynthetic bacteria for fatty acids production.

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Clean Fuel Department, Korea Institute of Energy Research, 102 Gajeong-ro, Yuseong-gu, Daejeon 305-343, Republic of Korea.


In the present work, we introduced a novel approach for microbial fatty acids (FA) production. Photosynthetic bacteria, Rhodobacter sphaeroides KD131, were cultivated in a continuous-flow, stirred-tank reactor (CFSTR) at various substrate (lactate) concentrations. At hydraulic retention time (HRT) 4d, cell concentration continuously increased from 0.97 g dcw/L to 2.05 g dcw/L as lactate concentration increased from 30 mM to 60mM. At 70 mM, however, cell concentration fluctuated with incomplete substrate degradation. By installing a membrane unit to CFSTR, a stable performance was observed under much higher substrate loading (lactate 100mM and HRT 1.5d). A maximum cell concentration of 16.2g dcw/L, cell productivity of 1.9 g dcw/L/d, and FA productivity of 665 mg FA/L/d were attained, and these values were comparable with those achieved using microalgae. The FA content of R. sphaeroides was around 35% of dry cell weight, mainly composed of vaccenic acid (C18:1, omega-7).


Cell productivity; Fatty acids; Lactate; Membrane-coupled bioreactor; Photosynthetic bacteria

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