Effects of glucose and glycerol on gamma-poly(glutamic acid) formation by Bacillus licheniformis ATCC 9945a

Biotechnol Bioeng. 1998 Feb 20;57(4):430-7. doi: 10.1002/(sici)1097-0290(19980220)57:4<430::aid-bit6>3.0.co;2-n.


Bacillus licheniformis ATCC 9945a is one of the bacterial strains that produce gamma-poly(glutamic acid) (gamma-PGA). The use of carbohydrate medium components for gamma-PGA production was explored. Cells were grown in shake flasks or in controlled pH fermentors using medium formulations that contain different carbon sources. During the cultivations, aliquots were removed to monitor cell growth, carbon utilization, polymer production, and polymer molecular weight. Glucose was a better carbon source than glycerol for cell growth. Furthermore, glucose was utilized at a faster rate than glycerol, citrate, or glutamate. However, by using mixtures of glucose and glycerol in medium formulations, the efficiency of gamma-PGA production increased. For example, by increasing the glycerol in medium formulations from 0 to 40 g/L, the gamma-PGA broth concentration after 96 h increased from 5.7 to 20.5 g/L. Considering that glycerol utilization was low for the glucose/glycerol mixtures studied, it was unclear as to the mechanism by which glycerol leads to enhanced product formation. Cell growth and concomitant gamma-PGA production (12 g/L) at pH 6.5 was possible using glucose as a carbon source if trace amounts (0.5 g/L each) of citrate and glutamate were present in the medium. We suggested that citrate and glutamate were useful in preventing salt precipitation from the medium. In addition, glutamate may be preferred relative to ammonium chloride as a nitrogen source. The conversion of glucose to gamma-PGA by the strain ATCC 9945a was believed to occur by glycolysis of glucose to acetyl-CoA and tricarboxylic acid (TCA) cycle intermediates that were then metabolized via the TCA cycle to form alpha-ketoglutarate, which is a direct glutamate precursor.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacillus / drug effects
  • Bacillus / metabolism*
  • Biotechnology / instrumentation
  • Biotechnology / methods
  • Culture Media
  • Fermentation
  • Glucose / metabolism*
  • Glucose / pharmacology
  • Glycerol / metabolism*
  • Glycerol / pharmacology
  • Hydrogen-Ion Concentration
  • Molecular Weight
  • Polyglutamic Acid / biosynthesis*
  • Polyglutamic Acid / chemistry


  • Culture Media
  • Polyglutamic Acid
  • Glucose
  • Glycerol