Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 93, Issue 3, pp 1049–1056 | Cite as

An improved screening method for microorganisms able to convert crude glycerol to 1,3-propanediol and to tolerate high product concentrations

  • Anne Katrin Ringel
  • Erik Wilkens
  • Diana Hortig
  • Thomas Willke
  • Klaus-Dieter Vorlop
Biotechnological products and process engineering


A new screening method was developed and established to find high-performance bacteria for the conversion of crude glycerol to 1,3-propanediol. Three soil samples from palm oil-rich habitats were investigated using crude glycerol of a German biodiesel plant. Nine promising 1,3-propanediol producers could be found. Because of a special pH buffer system, a fast evaluation on microscale and high 1,3-propanediol concentrations up to 40 g L−1 could be achieved. Three strains demonstrated very high product tolerance and were identified as Clostridium butyricum. Two strains, AKR91b and AKR102a, grew and produced 1,3-propanediol in the presence of 60 g L−1 initial 1,3-propanediol, the strain AKR92a even in the presence of 77 g L−1 1,3-propanediol. The strains AKR91b and AKR102a tolerated up to 150 g L−1 crude glycerol and produced 80% of the 1,3-propanediol attained from pure glycerol of the same concentration. Further criteria for the choice of a production strain were the pathogenicity (risk class), ability to grow on low-cost media, e.g., with less yeast extract, and robustness, e.g., process stability after several bioconversions. Overall, the strain C. butyricum AKR102a was chosen for further process optimization and scale-up due to its high productivity and high final concentration in a pH-regulated bioreactor.


Screening 1,3-Propanediol Crude glycerol Microscale Product tolerance 



This project was funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) (IG-Biotech 0315026E).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne Katrin Ringel
    • 1
  • Erik Wilkens
    • 1
  • Diana Hortig
    • 1
  • Thomas Willke
    • 1
  • Klaus-Dieter Vorlop
    • 1
  1. 1.Johann Heinrich von Thünen-Institut (vTI)Institute of Agricultural Technology and Biosystems Engineering (AB)BraunschweigGermany

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