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Journal Article

Nitrate Feed Improves Growth and Ethanol Production of Clostridium ljungdahlii With CO2 and H2, but Results in Stochastic Inhibition Events


Angenent,  LT       
Research Group Environmental Biotechnology, Max Planck Institute for Developmental Biology, Max Planck Society;

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Klask, C.-M., Kliem-Kuster, N., Molitor, B., & Angenent, L. (2020). Nitrate Feed Improves Growth and Ethanol Production of Clostridium ljungdahlii With CO2 and H2, but Results in Stochastic Inhibition Events. Frontiers in Microbiology, 11: 724. doi:10.3389/fmicb.2020.00724.

Cite as: https://hdl.handle.net/21.11116/0000-000B-9AEB-F
The pH-value in fermentation broth is a critical factor for the metabolic flux and growth behavior of acetogens. A decreasing pH level throughout time due to undissociated acetic acid accumulation is anticipated under uncontrolled pH conditions such as in bottle experiments. As a result, the impact of changes in the metabolism (e.g., due to a genetic modification) might remain unclear or even unrevealed. In contrast, pH-controlled conditions can be achieved in bioreactors. Here, we present a self-built, comparatively cheap, and user-friendly multiple-bioreactor system (MBS) consisting of six pH-controlled bioreactors at a 1-L scale. We tested the functionality of the MBS by cultivating the acetogen Clostridium ljungdahlii with CO2 and H2 at steady-state conditions (=chemostat). The experiments (total of 10 bioreactors) were addressing the two questions: (1) does the MBS provide replicable data for gas-fermentation experiments?; and (2) does feeding nitrate influence the product spectrum under controlled pH conditions with CO2 and H2? We applied four different periods in each experiment ranging from pH 6.0 to pH 4.5. On the one hand, our data showed high reproducibility for gas-fermentation experiments with C. ljungdahlii under standard cultivation conditions using the MBS. On the other hand, feeding nitrate as sole N-source improved growth by up to 62% and ethanol production by 2-3-fold. However, we observed differences in growth, and acetate and ethanol production rates between all nitrate bioreactors. We explained the different performances with a pH-buffering effect that resulted from the interplay between undissociated acetic acid production and ammonium production and because of stochastic inhibition events, which led to complete crashes at different operating times.