Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology

, Volume 38, Issue 5, pp 581-597

First online:

Development and application of co-culture for ethanol production by co-fermentation of glucose and xylose: a systematic review

  • Yanli ChenAffiliated withDepartment of Chemical Engineering, Auburn University Email author 

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This article reviews current co-culture systems for fermenting mixtures of glucose and xylose to ethanol. Thirty-five co-culture systems that ferment either synthetic glucose and xylose mixture or various biomass hydrolysates are examined. Strain combinations, fermentation modes and conditions, and fermentation performance for these co-culture systems are compared and discussed. It is noted that the combination of Pichia stipitis with Saccharomyces cerevisiae or its respiratory-deficient mutant is most commonly used. One of the best results for fermentation of glucose and xylose mixture is achieved by using co-culture of immobilized Zymomonas mobilis and free cells of P. stipitis, giving volumetric ethanol production of 1.277 g/l/h and ethanol yield of 0.49–0.50 g/g. The review discloses that, as a strategy for efficient conversion of glucose and xylose, co-culture fermentation for ethanol production from lignocellulosic biomass can increase ethanol yield and production rate, shorten fermentation time, and reduce process costs, and it is a promising technology although immature.


Ethanol production Co-culture Co-fermentation Glucose Xylose