The aim of this work was to study the metabolic and microbial community dynamics during dark co-fermentation of 80% tequila vinasse and 20% nixtamalization wastewater (w/w). Batch co-fermentations were performed in a 3-L well-mixed reactor at 35 °C and pH 5.5. In correspondence to Illumina MiSeq sequencing and reactor monitoring, changes in metabolites and microbial communities were characterized by three main stages: (i) a first stage during which lactate and acetate producers dominated and consumed the major part of fermentable carbohydrates, (ii) a second stage in which lactate and acetate were consumed by emerging hydrogen-producing bacteria (HPB) in correlation with bioH2 (100 NmL/L-h or 1200 NmL/Lreactor) and butyrate production, and (iii) a third stage during which non-HPB outcompeted HPB after bioH2 production ceased. Altogether, the results of this study suggest that cooperative interactions between lactate producers and lactate- and acetate-consuming HPB could be attributed to lactate- and acetate-based cross-feeding interactions.
Keywords: Cross-feeding; Dark fermentation; Hydrogen-producing bacteria; Lactic acid bacteria; Microbial dynamics.
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