Continuous Succinic Acid Production by Actinobacillus succinogenes on Xylose-Enriched Hydrolysate

Michael F.A. Bradfield, Ali Mohagheghi, Davinia Salvachúa, Holly Smith, Brenna A. Black, Nancy Dowe, Gregg T. Beckham, Willie Nicol

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87 Scopus Citations


Background: Bio-manufacturing of high-value chemicals in parallel to renewable biofuels has the potential to dramatically improve the overall economic landscape of integrated lignocellulosic biorefineries. However, this will require the generation of carbohydrate streams from lignocellulose in a form suitable for efficient microbial conversion and downstream processing appropriate to the desired end use, making overall process development, along with selection of appropriate target molecules, crucial to the integrated biorefinery. Succinic acid (SA), a high-value target molecule, can be biologically produced from sugars and has the potential to serve as a platform chemical for various chemical and polymer applications. However, the feasibility of microbial SA production at industrially relevant productivities and yields from lignocellulosic biorefinery streams has not yet been reported. Results: Actinobacillus succinogenes 130Z was immobilised in a custom continuous fermentation setup to produce SA on the xylose-enriched fraction of a non-detoxified, xylose-rich corn stover hydrolysate stream produced from deacetylation and dilute acid pretreatment. Effective biofilm attachment, which serves as a natural cell retention strategy to increase cell densities, productivities and resistance to toxicity, was accomplished by means of a novel agitator fitting. A maximum SA titre, yield and productivity of 39.6 g L-1, 0.78 g g-1 and 1.77 g L-1 h-1 were achieved, respectively. Steady states were obtained at dilution rates of 0.02, 0.03, 0.04, and 0.05 h-1 and the stirred biofilm reactor was stable over prolonged periods of operation with a combined fermentation time of 1550 h. Furthermore, it was found that a gradual increase in the dilution rate was required to facilitate adaptation of the culture to the hydrolysate, suggesting a strong evolutionary response to the toxic compounds in the hydrolysate. Moreover, the two primary suspected fermentation inhibitors, furfural and HMF, were metabolised during fermentation with the concentration of each remaining at zero across all steady states. Conclusions: The results demonstrate that immobilised A. succinogenes has the potential for effective conversion of an industrially relevant, biomass-derived feed stream to succinic acid. Furthermore, due to the attractive yields, productivities and titres achieved in this study, the process has the potential to serve as a means for value-added chemical manufacturing in the integrated biorefinery.

Original languageAmerican English
Article number363
Number of pages17
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Bradfield et al.

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5100-65596


  • Actinobacillus succinogenes
  • Biorefinery
  • Continuous fermentation
  • Corn stover hydrolysate
  • Succinic acid


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