Optimization of L-malic acid production from acetate with Aspergillus oryzae DSM 1863 using a pH-coupled feeding strategy
Microb Cell Fact. 2022 Nov 23;21(1):242. doi: 10.1186/s12934-022-01961-8.
BACKGROUND: Malic acid, a dicarboxylic acid mainly used in the food industry, is currently produced from fossil resources. The utilization of low-cost substrates derived from biomass could render microbial processes economic. Such feedstocks, like lignocellulosic hydrolysates or condensates of fast pyrolysis, can contain high concentrations of acetic acid. Acetate is a suitable substrate for L-malic acid production with the filamentous fungus Aspergillus oryzae DSM 1863, but concentrations obtained so far are low. An advantage of this carbon source is that it can be used for pH control and simultaneous substrate supply in the form of acetic acid. In this study, we therefore aimed to enhance L-malate production from acetate with A. oryzae by applying a pH-coupled feeding strategy.
RESULTS: In 2.5-L bioreactor fermentations, several feeding strategies were evaluated. Using a pH-coupled feed consisting of 10 M acetic acid, the malic acid concentration was increased about 5.3-fold compared to the batch process without pH control, resulting in a maximum titer of 29.53 ± 1.82 g/L after 264 h. However, it was not possible to keep both the pH and the substrate concentration constant during this fermentation. By using 10 M acetic acid set to a pH of 4.5, or with the repeated addition of NaOH, the substrate concentration could be maintained within a constant range, but these strategies did not prove beneficial as lower maximum titers and yields were obtained. Since cessation of malic acid production was observed in later fermentation stages despite carbon availability, a possible product inhibition was evaluated in shake flask cultivations. In these experiments, malate and succinate, which is a major by-product during malic acid production, were added at concentrations of up to 50 g/L, and it was found that A. oryzae is capable of organic acid production even at high product concentrations.
CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates that a suitable feeding strategy is necessary for efficient malic acid production from acetate. It illustrates the potential of acetate as carbon source for microbial production of the organic acid and provides useful insights which can serve as basis for further optimization.