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J Biotechnol. 1995 Dec 1;43(2):145-58.

Measurements of sulfur, phosphorus and other ions in microbial biomass: influence on correct determination of elemental composition and degree of reduction.

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Institut de Génie Chimique, Ecole Polytechnique Fédédrale de Lausanne, Switzerland.


The elemental composition of microorganisms varies widely with respect to the N, S, P and ash content as well as many trace elements depending on microorganism and growth conditions. As a consequence, the mass of 1 C-mol of biomass can differ considerably from one microorganism to another. Experimental results show that sulfur is completely volatilized during combustion, so that the calculation of the mass fraction of oxygen is affected when S is not measured. However, its neglect does not seriously affect the elemental composition and the degree of reduction of biomass. Phosphorus is found in ash after combustion at the same degree of reduction as in biomass. Therefore, oxygen bound to it should be included in the elemental formula, so that the degree of reduction of biomass remains unchanged by inclusion of P into elemental formula. No external oxygen is incorporated into biomass during combustion and thus the measured ash fraction is correct.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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