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The importance of aeration strategy in fuel alcohol fermentations contaminated with Dekkera/Brettanomyces yeasts


Whole corn mash fermentations infected with industrially-isolated Brettanomyces yeasts were not affected even when viable Brettanomyces yeasts out-numbered Saccharomyces yeasts tenfold at the onset of fermentation. Therefore, aeration, a parameter that is pivotal to the physiology of Dekkera/Brettanomyces yeasts, was investigated in mixed culture fermentations. Results suggest that aeration strategy plays a significant role in Dekkera/Brettanomyces-mediated inhibition of fuel alcohol fermentations. Although growth of Saccharomyces cerevisiae was not impeded, mixed culture fermentations aerated at rates of ≥20 ml air l−1 mash min−1 showed decreased ethanol yields and an accumulation of acetic acid. The importance of aeration was examined further in combination with organic acid(s). Growth of Saccharomyces occurred more rapidly than growth of Brettanomyces yeasts in all conditions. The combination of 0.075% (w/v) acetic acid and contamination with Brettanomyces TK 1404W did not negatively impact the final ethanol yield under fermentative conditions. Aeration, however, did prove to be detrimental to final ethanol yields. With the inclusion of aeration in the control condition (no organic acid stress) and in each fermentation containing organic acid(s), the final ethanol yields were decreased. It was therefore concluded that aeration strategy is the key parameter in regards to the negative effects observed in fuel alcohol fermentations infected with Dekkera/Brettanomyces yeasts.

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The authors thank NSERC and Alltech for research support and thank the University of Saskatchewan’s graduate scholarship program (to D. A.).

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Correspondence to W. M. Ingledew.

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Abbott, D.A., Ingledew, W.M. The importance of aeration strategy in fuel alcohol fermentations contaminated with Dekkera/Brettanomyces yeasts. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 69, 16–21 (2005).

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  • Fermentation
  • Ethanol Yield
  • Batch Fermentation
  • Acetic Acid Production
  • Fuel Alcohol