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Effect of substrate loading on hydrogen production during anaerobic fermentation by Clostridium thermocellum 27405


We have investigated hydrogen (H2) production by the cellulose-degrading anaerobic bacterium, Clostridium thermocellum. In the following experiments, batch-fermentations were carried out with cellobiose at three different substrate concentrations to observe the effects of carbon-limited or carbon-excess conditions on the carbon flow, H2-production, and synthesis of other fermentation end products, such as ethanol and organic acids. Rates of cell growth were unaffected by different substrate concentrations. H2, carbon dioxide (CO2), acetate, and ethanol were the main products of fermentation. Other significant end products detected were formate and lactate. In cultures where cell growth was severely limited due to low initial substrate concentrations, hydrogen yields of 1 mol H2/mol of glucose were obtained. In the cultures where growth ceased due to carbon depletion, lactate and formate represented a small fraction of the total end products produced, which consisted mainly of H2, CO2, acetate, and ethanol throughout growth. In cultures with high initial substrate concentrations, cellobiose consumption was incomplete and cell growth was limited by factors other than carbon availability. H2-production continued even in stationary phase and H2/CO2 ratios were consistently greater than 1 with a maximum of 1.2 at the stationary phase. A maximum specific H2 production rate of 14.6 mmol g dry cell−1 h−1 was observed. As cells entered stationary phase, extracellular pyruvate production was observed in high substrate concentration cultures and lactate became a major end product.

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This work was supported by funds provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through a strategic programs grant (STPGP 306944-04), the BIOCAP Canada Foundation, and by the Manitoba Conservation Sustainable Development and Innovation Fund.

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Correspondence to Nazim Cicek.

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Islam, R., Cicek, N., Sparling, R. et al. Effect of substrate loading on hydrogen production during anaerobic fermentation by Clostridium thermocellum 27405. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 72, 576–583 (2006).

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  • Fermentation
  • Cellobiose
  • Carbon Flow
  • Initial Substrate Concentration
  • Clostridium Thermocellum