Bacterial cellulose (BC) is widely used in the food industry for products such as nata de coco. The mechanical properties of BC hydrogels, including stiffness and viscoelasticity, are determined by the hydrated fibril network. Generally, Komagataeibacter bacteria produce gluconic acids in a glucose medium, which may affect the pH, structure and mechanical properties of BC. In this work, the effect of pH buffer on the yields of Komagataeibacter hansenii strain ATCC 53582 was studied. The bacterium in a phosphate and phthalate buffer with low ionic strength produced a good BC yield (5.16 and 4.63 g/l respectively), but there was a substantial reduction in pH due to the accumulation of gluconic acid. However, the addition of gluconic acid enhanced the polymer density and mechanical properties of BC hydrogels. The effect was similar to that of the bacteria using glycerol in another carbon metabolism circuit, which provided good pH stability and a higher conversion rate of carbon. This study may broaden the understanding of how carbon sources affect BC biosynthesis.
Keywords: Bacterial cellulose; gluconic acid; glycerol; mechanics; pH buffer; rheology.