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Open Access Research

Comparing the fermentation performance of Escherichia coli KO11, Saccharomyces cerevisiae 424A(LNH-ST) and Zymomonas mobilis AX101 for cellulosic ethanol production

Ming W Lau, Christa Gunawan, Venkatesh Balan and Bruce E Dale*

Author Affiliations

Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science, DOE Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center, Michigan State University, 3900 Collins Rd, Lansing, MI 48910, USA

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Biotechnology for Biofuels 2010, 3:11  doi:10.1186/1754-6834-3-11

Published: 27 May 2010

Abstract

Background

Fermentations using Escherichia coli KO11, Saccharomyces cerevisiae 424A(LNH-ST), and Zymomonas mobilis AX101 are compared side-by-side on corn steep liquor (CSL) media and the water extract and enzymatic hydrolysate from ammonia fiber expansion (AFEX)-pretreated corn stover.

Results

The three ethanologens are able produce ethanol from a CSL-supplemented co-fermentation at a metabolic yield, final concentration and rate greater than 0.42 g/g consumed sugars, 40 g/L and 0.7 g/L/h (0-48 h), respectively. Xylose-only fermentation of the tested ethanologenic bacteria are five to eight times faster than 424A(LNH-ST) in the CSL fermentation.

All tested strains grow and co-ferment sugars at 15% w/v solids loading equivalent of ammonia fiber explosion (AFEX)-pretreated corn stover water extract. However, both KO11 and 424A(LNH-ST) exhibit higher growth robustness than AX101. In 18% w/w solids loading lignocellulosic hydrolysate from AFEX pretreatment, complete glucose fermentations can be achieved at a rate greater than 0.77 g/L/h. In contrast to results from fermentation in CSL, S. cerevisiae 424A(LNH-ST) consumed xylose at the greatest extent and rate in the hydrolysate compared to the bacteria tested.

Conclusions

Our results confirm that glucose fermentations among the tested strains are effective even at high solids loading (18% by weight). However, xylose consumption in the lignocellulosic hydrolysate is the major bottleneck affecting overall yield, titer or rate of the process. In comparison, Saccharomyces cerevisiae 424A(LNH-ST) is the most relevant strains for industrial production for its ability to ferment both glucose and xylose from undetoxified and unsupplemented hydrolysate from AFEX-pretreated corn stover at high yield.