Springer Online Journal Archives 1860-2000
Process Engineering, Biotechnology, Nutrition Technology
Summary Limitations in mass and momentum transfer coupled with high hydrostatic pressures create significant spatial variations in dissolved gas concentrations in large fermenters. Microorganisms are subjected to fluctuating environmental conditions as they pass through the zones in a stirred vessel or along a closed loop fermenter. A 7-litre fermenter was modified to simulate the dissolved gas and hydrostatic pressure gradients in large vessels. The effect of cycling dissolved oxygen tension (DOT) on penicillin production by Penicillium chrysogenum P1 was investigated. The fermentation was affected by evironmental conditions such as medium composition, pH, size of inoculum, stirrer speed and DOT. Inoculum size below 10% (v/v) and stirrer speeds above 850 rpm caused significant reductions in specific prenicillin production rates (qpen). qpen values were measured at different constant DOT levels. Below 30% air saturation qpen decreased sharply and no production was observed at 10%. Penicillin synthesis was impaired irreversibly below 10% DOT. The same profile was observed at higher stirrer speeds and air flow rates indicating that the effect was a physiological one. Oxygen uptake of the culture was affected significantly below 7% DOT, demonstrating that the critical DOT values for penicillin production and oxygen uptake are two distinct parameters. Carrying out the fermentation at one atmosphere over pressure was found to have no effect. When the dissolved oxygen concentration of the culture medium was cycled around the critical DOT for penicillin production, a considerable decrease in the specific penicillin production rate was observed. The effect was reversible but not transient, indicating a shift in cell metabolism. These results demonstrate the unfavourable effect of fluctuating environmental conditions on culture performance in stirred tanks. They suggest that these effects should be accounted for during strain selection, process development and scale up stages of an industrial process if the productivities in small scale vessels are to be obtained.
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