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Production of caproic acid by cocultures of ruminal cellulolytic bacteria and Clostridium kluyveri grown on cellulose and ethanol

  • Applied Microbial and Cell Physiology
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Ruminal cellulolytic bacteria (Fibrobacter succinogenes S85 or Ruminococcus flavefaciens FD-1) were combined with the non-ruminal bacterium Clostridium kluyveri and grown together on cellulose and ethanol. Succinate and acetate produced by the cellulolytic organisms were converted to butyrate and caproate only when the culture medium was supplemented with ethanol. Ethanol (244 mM) and butyrate (30 mM at pH 6.8) did not inhibit cellulose digestion or product formation by S85 or FD-1; however caproate (30 mM at pH 6.8) was moderately inhibitory to FD-1. Succinate consumption and caproate production were sensitive to culture pH, with more caproic acid being produced when the culture was controlled at a pH near neutrality. In a representative experiment under conditions of controlled pH (at 6.8) 6.0 g cellulose 1−1 and 4.4 g ethanol 1−1 were converted to 2.6 g butyrate 1−1 and 4.6 g caproate 1−1. The results suggest that bacteria that efficiently produce low levels of ethanol and acetate or succinate from cellulose should be useful in cocultures for the production of caproic acid, a potentially useful industrial chemical and bio-fuel precursor.

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Kenealy, W.R., Cao, Y. & Weimer, P.J. Production of caproic acid by cocultures of ruminal cellulolytic bacteria and Clostridium kluyveri grown on cellulose and ethanol. Appl Microbiol Biotechnol 44, 507–513 (1995).

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