, Volume 84-86, Issue 1-9, pp 665-677

High-yield fermentation of pentoses into lactic acid

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Lactobacillus species capable of fermenting glucose are generally incapable of utilizing xylose for growth or fermentation. In this study, a novel aspect of a well-known Lactobacillus strain, L. casei subsp. rhamnous (ATCC 10863), was uncovered: it can ferment xylose as efficiently as glucose. This strain is a registered organism, extremely stable on long-term operation. Fermentation by this strain is characterized by an initial lag phase lasting 24–72 h before xylose consumption takes place. The yield (grams/gram) of lactic acid from xylose is in excess of 80% with initial volumetric productivity of 0.38 g/(L-h). Acetic acid is the primary byproduct formed at the level of about 10% of the lactic acid. In addition to xylose, it can ferment all other minor sugars in hemicellulose except arabinose. Subjected to mixed sugar fermentation, this strain consumes glucose first, then mannose, followed by almost simultaneous utilization of xylose and galactose. It shows high tolerance for lactic acid as well as extraneous toxins. It can ferment the mixed sugars present in acid-treated hydrolysate of softwood, giving yields similar to that of pure sugar but at a slower rate.
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