Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 72, Issue 5, pp 861–868 | Cite as

Lactic acid production from xylose by the fungus Rhizopus oryzae

  • Ronald H. W. MaasEmail author
  • Robert R. Bakker
  • Gerrit Eggink
  • Ruud A. Weusthuis
Biotechnological Products and Process Engineering


Lignocellulosic biomass is considered nowadays to be an economically attractive carbohydrate feedstock for large-scale fermentation of bulk chemicals such as lactic acid. The filamentous fungus Rhizopus oryzae is able to grow in mineral medium with glucose as sole carbon source and to produce optically pure l(+)-lactic acid. Less is known about the conversion by R. oryzae of pentose sugars such as xylose, which is abundantly present in lignocellulosic hydrolysates. This paper describes the conversion of xylose in synthetic media into lactic acid by ten R. oryzae strains resulting in yields between 0.41 and 0.71 g g−1. By-products were fungal biomass, xylitol, glycerol, ethanol and carbon dioxide. The growth of R. oryzae CBS 112.07 in media with initial xylose concentrations above 40 g l−1 showed inhibition of substrate consumption and lactic acid production rates. In case of mixed substrates, diauxic growth was observed where consumption of glucose and xylose occurred subsequently. Sugar consumption rate and lactic acid production rate were significantly higher during glucose consumption phase compared to xylose consumption phase. Available xylose (10.3 g l−1) and glucose (19.2 g l−1) present in a mild-temperature alkaline treated wheat straw hydrolysate was converted subsequently by R. oryzae with rates of 2.2 g glucose l−1 h−1 and 0.5 g xylose l−1 h−1. This resulted mainly into the product lactic acid (6.8 g l−1) and ethanol (5.7 g l−1).


Fermentation Lactic Acid Xylose Xylitol Wheat Straw 
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This work was supported with a grant of the Dutch Programme EET (Economy, Ecology, Technology), a joint initiative of the Ministries of Economic Affairs, Education, Culture and Sciences and of Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment. Co-financing was provided by Program 412 Renewable Resources of the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ronald H. W. Maas
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Robert R. Bakker
    • 1
  • Gerrit Eggink
    • 1
    • 2
  • Ruud A. Weusthuis
    • 1
  1. 1.Biobased Products, Agrotechnology and Food Sciences GroupWageningen University and Research CentreWageningenThe Netherlands
  2. 2.Food and Bioprocess Engineering, Agrotechnology and Food Sciences GroupWageningen University and Research CentreWageningenThe Netherlands

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