Ethanol effect on metabolic activity of the ethalogenic fungus Fusarium oxysporum
Journal article, 2015
Background: Fusarium oxysporum is a filamentous fungus which has attracted a lot of scientific interest not only due to its ability to produce a variety of lignocellulolytic enzymes, but also because it is able to ferment both hexoses and pentoses to ethanol. Although this fungus has been studied a lot as a cell factory, regarding applications for the production of bioethanol and other high added value products, no systematic study has been performed concerning its ethanol tolerance levels. Results: In aerobic conditions it was shown that both the biomass production and the specific growth rate were affected by the presence of ethanol. The maximum allowable ethanol concentration, above which cells could not grow, was predicted to be 72 g/L. Under limited aeration conditions the ethanol-producing capability of the cells was completely inhibited at 50 g/L ethanol. The lignocellulolytic enzymatic activities were affected to a lesser extent by the presence of ethanol, while the ethanol inhibitory effect appears to be more severe at elevated temperatures. Moreover, when the produced ethanol was partially removed from the broth, it led to an increase in fermenting ability of the fungus up to 22.5%. The addition of F. oxysporum's system was shown to increase the fermentation of pretreated wheat straw by 11%, in co-fermentation with Saccharomyces cerevisiae. Conclusions: The assessment of ethanol tolerance levels of F. oxysporum on aerobic growth, on lignocellulolytic activities and on fermentative performance confirmed its biotechnological potential for the production of bioethanol. The cellulolytic and xylanolytic enzymes of this fungus could be exploited within the biorefinery concept as their ethanol resistance is similar to that of the commercial enzymes broadly used in large scale fermentations and therefore, may substantially contribute to a rational design of a bioconversion process involving F. oxysporum. The SSCF experiments on liquefied wheat straw rich in hemicellulose indicated that the contribution of the metabolic system of F. oxysporum in a co-fermentation with S. cerevisiae may play a secondary role.