Propionic acid fermentation of glycerol and glucose by Propionibacterium acidipropionici and Propionibacterium freudenreichii ssp.shermanii
A comparative study was carried out in anaerobic batch cultures on 20 g/l of either glycerol or glucose using two propionibacteria strains, Propionibacterium acidipropionici and Propionibacterium freudenreichii ssp. shermanii. In all cases, fermentation end-products were the same and consisted of propionic acid as the major product, acetic acid as the main by-product and two minor metabolites, n-propanol and succinic acid. Evidence was provided that greater production of propionic acid by propionibacteria was obtained with glycerol as carbon and energy sources. P. acidipropionici showed higher efficiency in glycerol conversion to propionic acid with a faster substrate consumption (0.64 g l−1 h−1) and a higher propionic acid production (0.42 g l−1 h−1 and 0.79 mol/mol). The almost exclusive production of propionic acid from glycerol by this bacterium suggested an homopropionic tendency of this fermentation. Acetic acid final concentration was two times lower on glycerol (2 g/l) than on glucose (4 g/l) for both micro-organisms. P. freudenreichii ssp. shermanii exhibited a glycerol fermentation pattern typical of non-associated glycerol-consumption-product formation. This could indicate a particular metabolism for P. freudenreichii ssp. shermanii oriented towards the production of other specific components. These results tend to show that glycerol could be an excellent alternative to conventional carbon sources such as carbohydrates for propionic acid production.
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