Citric acid is typically produced industrially by Aspergillus niger-mediated fermentation of a sucrose-based feedstock, such as molasses. The fungus Aspergillus niger has the potential to utilise lignocellulosic biomass, such as bagasse, for industrial-scale citric acid production, but realising this potential requires strain optimisation. Systems biology can accelerate strain engineering by systematic target identification, facilitated by methods for the integration of omics data into a high-quality metabolic model. In this work, we perform transcriptomic analysis to determine the temporal expression changes during fermentation of bagasse hydrolysate and develop an evolutionary algorithm to integrate the transcriptomic data with the available metabolic model to identify potential targets for strain engineering.
The novel integrated procedure matures our understanding of suboptimal citric acid production and reveals potential targets for strain engineering, including targets consistent with the literature such as the up-regulation of citrate export and pyruvate carboxylase as well as novel targets such as the down-regulation of inorganic diphosphatase.
In this study, we demonstrate the production of citric acid from lignocellulosic hydrolysate and show how transcriptomic data across multiple timepoints can be coupled with evolutionary and metabolic modelling to identify potential targets for further engineering to maximise productivity from a chosen feedstock. The in silico strategies employed in this study can be applied to other biotechnological goals, assisting efforts to harness the potential of microorganisms for bio-based production of valuable chemicals.
Fumaric acid is widely used in the food and beverage, pharmaceutical and polyester resin industries. Rhizopus oryzae is the most successful microorganism at excreting fumaric acid compared to all known natural and genetically modified organisms. It has previously been discovered that careful control of the glucose feed rate can eliminate the by-product formation of ethanol. Two key parameters affecting fumaric acid excretion were identified, namely the medium pH and the urea feed rate. A continuous fermentation with immobilised R. oryzae was utilised to determine the effect of these parameters. It was found that the selectivity for fumaric acid production increased at high glucose consumption rates for a pH of 4, different from the trend for pH 5 and 6, achieving a yield of 0.93 gg−1. This yield is higher than previously reported in the literature. Varying the urea feed rate to 0.255 mgL−1h−1 improved the yield of fumaric acid but experienced a lower glucose uptake rate compared to higher urea feed rates. An optimum region has been found for fumaric acid production at pH 4, a urea feed rate of 0.625 mgL−1h−1 and a glucose feed rate of 0.329 gL−1h−1.
l-Malic acid is a C4-dicarboxylic acid and a potential key building block for a bio-based economy. At present, malic acid is synthesized petrochemically and its major market is the food and beverages industry. In future, malic acid might also serve as a building block for biopolymers or even replace the commodity chemical maleic anhydride. For a sustainable production of l-malic acid from renewable resources, the microbial synthesis by the mold Aspergillus oryzae is one possible route. As CO2 fixation is involved in the biosynthesis, high yields are possible, and at the same time greenhouse gases can be reduced. In order to enhance the production potential of the wild-type strain Aspergillus oryzae DSM 1863, process characteristics were studied in shake flasks, comparing batch, fed-batch, and repeated-batch cultivations. In the batch process, a prolonged cultivation time led to malic acid consumption. Keeping carbon source concentration on a high level by pulsed feeding could prolong cell viability and cultivation time, however, did not result in significant higher product levels. In contrast, continuous malic acid production could be achieved over six exchange cycles and a total fermentation time of 19 days in repeated-batch cultivations. Up to 178 g/L l-malic acid was produced. The maximum productivity (0.90 ± 0.05 g/L/h) achieved in the repeated-batch cultivation had more than doubled than that achieved in the batch process and also the average productivity (0.42 ± 0.03 g/L/h for five exchange cycles and 16 days) was increased considerably. Further repeated-batch experiments confirmed a positive effect of regular calcium carbonate additions on pH stability and malic acid synthesis. Besides calcium carbonate, nitrogen supplementation proved to be essential for the prolonged malic acid production in repeated-batch. As prolonged malic acid production was only observed in cultivations with product removal, product inhibition seems to be the major limiting factor for malic acid production by the wild-type strain. This study provides a systematic comparison of different process strategies under consideration of major influencing factors and thereby delivers important insights into natural l-malic acid production.