Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology, Vol.105, No.20, 7981-7995, 2021
Effect of culture conditions on the performance of lignocellulose-degrading synthetic microbial consortia
In this study, we examined a synthetic microbial consortium, composed of two selected bacteria, i.e., Citrobacter freundii so4 and Sphingobacterium multivorum w15, next to the fungus Coniochaeta sp. 2T2.1, with respect to their fate and roles in the degradation of wheat straw (WS). A special focus was placed on the effects of pH (7.2, 6.2, or 5.2), temperature (25 versus 28 degrees C), and shaking speed (60 versus 180 rpm). Coniochaeta sp. 2T2.1 consistently had a key role in the degradation process, with the two bacteria having additional roles. Whereas temperature exerted only minor effects on the degradation, pH and shaking speed were key determinants of both organismal growth and WS degradation levels. In detail, the three-partner degrader consortium showed significantly higher WS degradation values at pH 6.2 and 5.2 than at pH 7.2. Moreover, the two bacteria revealed up to tenfold enhanced final cell densities (ranging from log8.0 to log9.0 colony forming unit (CFU)/mL) in the presence of Coniochaeta sp. 2T2.1 than when growing alone or in a bacterial bi-culture, regardless of pH range or shaking speed. Conversely, at 180 rpm, fungal growth was clearly suppressed by the presence of the bacteria at pH 5.2 and pH 6.2, but not at pH 7.2. In contrast, at 60 rpm, the presence of the bacteria fostered fungal growth. In these latter cultures, oxygen levels were significantly lowered as compared to the maximal levels found at 180 rpm (about 5.67 mg/L, similar to 62% of saturation). Conspicuous effects on biomass appearance pointed to a fungal biofilm-modulating role of the bacteria.