Influence of initial cellulose concentration on the carbon flow distribution during batch fermentation by Clostridium thermocellum ATCC 27405

  • Rumana Islam
  • Nazim Cicek
  • Richard Sparling
  • David LevinEmail author
Applied Microbial and Cell Physiology


The objective of this research was to understand how carbon loading influences hydrogen (H2) synthesis and metabolic flow patterns in the thermophilic, cellulolytic bacterium, Clostridium thermocellum. C. thermocellum was cultivated in batch cultures with high (5 g L−1) and low (1 g L−1) initial concentrations of α-cellulose at 60°C. The growth rate of C. thermocellum was 22% lower (0.15 h−1) in cultures with low-cellulose concentration compared with cultures with high-cellulose concentrations. Although substrate depletion coincided with the end of log-growth in low-cellulose cultures, the prime reason for growth arrest in high-cellulose cultures was not identified. Ethanol, acetate, and formate were the major soluble end-products with concomitant release of H2 and CO2 under both conditions. Lactate appeared during the late log phase in high-carbon cultures when pH dropped below 6.4 and became the major end-product in stationary phase. During the exponential phase of cell growth, significantly higher yields for H2 and acetate (1.90 ± 0.14 and 1.11 ± 0.04 mol/mol glucose equivalent, respectively) were obtained from low-cellulose cultures compared to those from high-cellulose cultures. The maximum specific rate of H2 production, 6.41 ± 0.13 mmol H2/g dry cell/h, obtained during the exponential phase from low-carbon cultures was about 37% higher than that obtained from high-carbon cultures.


Clostridium thermocellum Hydrogen Ethanol Acetate α-cellulose 



This work was supported by funds provided by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) through a strategic programs grant (STPGP 306944-04), the BIOCAP Canada Foundation, and by the Manitoba Conservation Sustainable Development and Innovation Fund, and the Manitoba Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Initiatives (MAFRI).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rumana Islam
    • 1
  • Nazim Cicek
    • 1
  • Richard Sparling
    • 2
  • David Levin
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Biosystems EngineeringUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada
  2. 2.Department of MicrobiologyUniversity of ManitobaWinnipegCanada

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