Bacillus coagulans MA-13: a promising thermophilic and cellulolytic strain for the production of lactic acid from lignocellulosic hydrolysate
Journal article, 2017
Background: The transition from a petroleum-based economy towards more sustainable bioprocesses for the production of fuels and chemicals (circular economy) is necessary to alleviate the impact of anthropic activities on the global ecosystem. Lignocellulosic biomass-derived sugars are suitable alternative feedstocks that can be fermented or biochemically converted to value-added products. An example is lactic acid, which is an essential chemical for the production of polylactic acid, a biodegradable bioplastic. However, lactic acid is still mainly produced by Lactobacillus species via fermentation of starch-containing materials, the use of which competes with the supply of food and feed. Results: A thermophilic and cellulolytic lactic acid producer was isolated from bean processing waste and was identified as a new strain of Bacillus coagulans, named MA-13. This bacterium fermented lignocellulose-derived sugars to lactic acid at 55 degrees C and pH 5.5. Moreover, it was found to be a robust strain able to tolerate high concentrations of hydrolysate obtained from wheat straw pre-treated by acid-catalysed (pre-) hydrolysis and steam explosion, especially when cultivated in controlled bioreactor conditions. Indeed, unlike what was observed in microscale cultivations (complete growth inhibition at hydrolysate concentrations above 50%), B. coagulans MA-13 was able to grow and ferment in 95% hydrolysate-containing bioreactor fermentations. This bacterium was also found to secrete soluble thermophilic cellulases, which could be produced at low temperature (37 degrees C), still retaining an optimal operational activity at 50 degrees C. Conclusions: The above-mentioned features make B. coagulans MA-13 an appealing starting point for future development of a consolidated bioprocess for production of lactic acid from lignocellulosic biomass, after further strain development by genetic and evolutionary engineering. Its optimal temperature and pH of growth match with the operational conditions of fungal enzymes hitherto employed for the depolymerisation of lignocellulosic biomasses to fermentable sugars. Moreover, the robustness of B. coagulans MA-13 is a desirable trait, given the presence of microbial growth inhibitors in the pre-treated biomass hydrolysate.