Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology

, Volume 99, Issue 19, pp 7937–7944 | Cite as

A deficiency of manganese ions in the presence of high sugar concentrations is the critical parameter for achieving high yields of itaconic acid by Aspergillus terreus

  • Levente KaraffaEmail author
  • Rafael Díaz
  • Benedek Papp
  • Erzsébet Fekete
  • Erzsébet Sándor
  • Christian P. Kubicek
Biotechnological products and process engineering


Itaconic acid (IA), an unsaturated dicarboxylic acid with a high potential as a platform for chemicals derived from sugars, is industrially produced by large-scale submerged fermentation by Aspergillus terreus. Although the biochemical pathway and the physiology leading to IA is almost the same as that leading to citric acid production in Aspergillus niger, published data for the volumetric (g L−1) and the specific yield (mol/mol carbon source) of IA are significantly lower than for citric acid. Citric acid is known to accumulate to high levels only when a number of nutritional parameters are carefully adjusted, of which the concentration of the carbon source and that of manganese ions in the medium are particularly important. We have therefore investigated whether a variation in these two parameters may enhance IA production and yield by A. terreus. We show that manganese ion concentrations < 3 ppb are necessary to obtain highest yields. Highest yields were also dependent on the concentration of the carbon source (d-glucose), and highest yields (0.9) were only obtained at concentrations of 12–20 % (w/v), thus allowing the accumulation of up to 130 g L−1 IA. These findings perfectly mirror those obtained when these parameters are varied in citric acid production by A. niger, thus showing that the physiology of both processes is widely identical. Consequently, applying the fermentation technology established for citric acid production by A. niger citric acid production to A. terreus should lead to high yields of IA, too.


Aspergillus terreus Itaconic acid Fermentation Manganese ions d-Glucose Specific yield Volumetric yield 



This research was supported by the EU and co-financed by the European Social Fund under the project ENVIKUT (TÁMOP-4.2.2.A-11/1/KONV-2012-0043), by the Hungarian Scientific Research Fund (OTKA Grant K1006600) and by the QuantFung Project (FP7, Proposal Nr. 607332). LK is a recipient of a Bólyai János Research Scholarship. We thank Dávid Andrási for the ICP-MS measurements.

Ethical statement

The authors declare no conflict of interest.

Supplementary material

253_2015_6735_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (26 kb)
ESM 1 (PDF 25 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Levente Karaffa
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rafael Díaz
    • 1
  • Benedek Papp
    • 2
  • Erzsébet Fekete
    • 1
  • Erzsébet Sándor
    • 2
  • Christian P. Kubicek
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biochemical Engineering, Faculty of Science and TechnologyUniversity of DebrecenDebrecenHungary
  2. 2.Faculty of Agricultural and Food Science and Environmental ManagementInstitute of Food ScienceDebrecenHungary
  3. 3.Research Division Biotechnology and Microbiology, Microbiology Group, Institute of Chemical EngineeringVienna University of TechnologyViennaAustria

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