, Volume 64, Issue 2, pp 175-186
Date: 13 Feb 2004

Biotechnological advantages of laboratory-scale solid-state fermentation with fungi

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Abstract

Despite the increasing number of publications dealing with solid-state (substrate) fermentation (SSF) it is very difficult to draw general conclusion from the data presented. This is due to the lack of proper standardisation that would allow objective comparison with other processes. Research work has so far focused on the general applicability of SSF for the production of enzymes, metabolites and spores, in that many different solid substrates (agricultural waste) have been combined with many different fungi and the productivity of each fermentation reported. On a gram bench-scale SSF appears to be superior to submerged fermentation technology (SmF) in several aspects. However, SSF up-scaling, necessary for use on an industrial scale, raises severe engineering problems due to the build-up of temperature, pH, O2, substrate and moisture gradients. Hence, most published reviews also focus on progress towards industrial engineering. The role of the physiological and genetic properties of the microorganisms used during growth on solid substrates compared with aqueous solutions has so far been all but neglected, despite the fact that it may be the microbiology that makes SSF advantageous against the SmF biotechnology. This review will focus on research work allowing comparison of the specific biological particulars of enzyme, metabolite and/or spore production in SSF and in SmF. In these respects, SSF appears to possess several biotechnological advantages, though at present on a laboratory scale only, such as higher fermentation productivity, higher end-concentration of products, higher product stability, lower catabolic repression, cultivation of microorganisms specialized for water-insoluble substrates or mixed cultivation of various fungi, and last but not least, lower demand on sterility due to the low water activity used in SSF.