Journal of Industrial Microbiology & Biotechnology ( 2022)
A system for co-cultivation of anaerobic fungi with anaerobic bacteria was established based on lactate cross-feeding to produce butyrate and butanol from plant biomass. Several co-culture formulations were assembled that consisted of anaerobic fungi (Anaeromyces robustus, Neocallimastix californiae, or Caecomyces churrovis) with the bacterium Clostridium acetobutylicum. Co-cultures were grown simultaneously (e.g. ‘one pot’), and compared to cultures where bacteria were cultured in fungal hydrolysate sequentially. Fungal hydrolysis of lignocellulose resulted in 7-11 mM amounts of glucose and xylose, as well as acetate, formate, ethanol and lactate to support clostridial growth. Under these conditions, one-stage simultaneous co-culture of anaerobic fungi with C. acetobutylicum promoted production of butyrate up to 30 mM. Alternatively, two-stage growth slightly promoted solventogenesis and elevated butanol levels (∼4-9 mM). Transcriptional regulation in the two-stage growth condition indicated that this cultivation method may decrease the time required to reach solventogenesis and induce expression of cellulose-degrading genes in C. acetobutylicum due to relieved carbon-catabolite repression. Overall, this study demonstrates a proof of concept for bio-butanol and bio-butyrate production from lignocellulose using an anaerobic fungal-bacterial co-culture system.