The effect of pH on nitrogen supply, cell lysis, and solvent production in fermentations of Clostridium acetobutylicum

Biotechnol Bioeng. 1985 May;27(5):681-94. doi: 10.1002/bit.260270518.


In batch fermentations of C. acetobutylicum, with 5 g/L yeast extract and 50mM glucose, the ratio of ammonium to glucose affected solvent production when the pH was left to vary uncontrolled from 4.5 to 3.65. High solvent production was observed for a low ratio. When the pH was controlled at 4.5, only acids were produced for all ratio values. At a low ammonium-to-glucose ratio, solvents were produced when the pH was controlled at 3.7. Acids only were produced for a low ratio value at pH 4.0 or for a high ratio value at pH 3.7. In continuous cultures, mostly acids were produced under glucose limitation, but solvents were produced under nitrogen limitation. It was concluded that the nitrogen availability controls solvent production and that the pH affects the availability of organic nitrogen. Biomass autolysis at the stationary phase of batch cultures was reversibly inhibited at pH values less than 3.8. In batch fermentations, the overall molar growth yields on ATP (Y(ATP)) varied from 5.5 to 9.0 and the transient yields from 5.5 to 15.5. In continuous cultures, the Y(ATP) values varied from 5.5 to 14.7 under glucose limitation, and from 6.1 to 9.3 under nitrogen limitation. The Y(ATP) depended on the ammonium to glucose ratio and the culture pH, but did not show the usual dependence on the specific growth rate in batch cultures. The experiments seem to confirm the hypothesis that solvent production is controlled by the demand and availability of ATP.