Collaboration for research on biorefinery using mesophilic Clostridia

In December 2013, a collaboration project between Food & Biobased Research and Mie University in Japan has started. This project concerns research towards the use of anaerobic bacteria for the direct fermentation of biomass resources into fuels and chemicals.

The  project is funded by a grant from the “Strategic Young Researcher Overseas Visits Program for Accelerating Brain Circulation” of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science, and includes the exchange visits of Japanese and Dutch researchers.

Use of meshophilic anaerobic bacterial species

Acetone, butanol, ethanol and isopropanol (ABE or IBE) are naturally formed products by a number of species of anaerobic bacteria. In addition, these species are able to produce other interesting chemicals, such as chiral products that are difficult to make by chemical synthesis, like 2,3-butanediol. Solventogenic clostridia can utilize a large variety of substrates from monosaccharides, including many pentoses and hexoses, to polysaccharides. However, the well-studied solvent-producing clostridial strains do not degrade cellulose as the main sugar component in lignocellulosic biomass, which from an economic point of view is among the most interesting substrates for solvent production. On the other hand, there are closely related bacterial species that are able to degrade plant polysaccharides, not only cellulose but also hemicellulose and complex polymers in cell walls of terrestrial and aquatic plants but do not produce solvents.

In this project we are studying the use of meshophilic anaerobic bacterial species such as the ABE- producer C. acetobutylicum and the cellulose-degrader C. cellulovorans in strategies for consolidated bioprocessing of lignocellulosic biomass. By combination of both C. acetobutylicum and C. cellulovorans, consolidated bioprocessing (CBP) of interesting feedstock’s for biorefinery could be effectively achieved. Results of the project are expected in improving efficiency in carbon utilization. The overall goal is to produce cost-effective biorefinery processes from lignocellulosic and aquatic biomass.