Microcalorimetry: A tool for the study of the biodegradability of straw by mixed bacterial cultures

  • Marie-Laure Fardeau
  • Françoise Plasse
  • Jean-Pierre Belaich
Industrial Microbiology


The biodegradability of straw by a mixed bacterial culture obtained from a pile of weeds was studied by microcalorimetry. All the cultures were grown at 30°C under anaerobic conditions in microcalorimetric vessels. The fermentation thermograms, obtained using well defined conditions, were very reproducible. The quantities of heat produced during straw degradation were found to be proportional to the quantity of straw introduced at the beginning of the fermentation.

The recovered carbon was also found to be proportional to the initial quantity of straw. From both microcalorimetric and chemical analysis it was concluded that the limiting factor of the straw degradation was the cellulolytic activity of the mixed culture. This is supported by the fact that commercially available cellulase added to the growth medium increases the amount of straw degradation by about four times. The heat associated with fermentation of each cellulose monomer (C6H10O5) was found to be 120 kJ, a value which is close to the heat associated with hexose fermentation by pure cultures. In conclusion, we propose that microcalorimetry can be used as a powerful tool for the analysis of the biodegradability of complex heterogeneous substrate by pure or mixed cultures.


Cellulose Chemical Analysis Fermentation Cellulase Straw 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1980

Authors and Affiliations

  • Marie-Laure Fardeau
    • 1
  • Françoise Plasse
    • 1
  • Jean-Pierre Belaich
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Chimie BactérienneC.N.R.S.Marseille Cedex 2France

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