Biotechnology and bioengineering

Enhancement of 2-phenylethanol productivity by Saccharomyces cerevisiae in two-phase fed-batch fermentations using solvent immobilization.

PMID 12569629


The bioconversion of L-phenylalanine to 2-phenylethanol by Saccharomyces cerevisiae in fed-batch experiments has shown that concentrations of 2-phenylethanol of >2.9 g/L have a negative impact on the oxidative capacity of the yeast. Without tight control on ethanol production, and hence on the feed rate, ethanol rapidly accumulates in the culture media, resulting in complete inhibition of cell growth before the maximal 2-phenylethanol concentration of 3.8 g/L, obtained in the absence of ethanol production, could be achieved. This effect was attributed to a cumulative effect of ethanol and 2-phenylethanol, which reduced the tolerance of the cells for these two products. To enhance the productivity of the bioconversion, a novel in situ product recovery strategy, based on the entrapment of an organic solvent (dibutylsebacate) into a polymeric matrix of polyethylene to form a highly absorbent and chemically and mechanically stable composite resin, was developed. Immobilization of the organic solvent successfully prevented phase toxicity of the solvent and allowed for an efficient removal of 2-phenylethanol from the bioreactor without the need for prior cell separation. The use of the composite resin increased the volumetric productivity of 2-phenylethanol by a factor 2 and significantly facilitated downstream processing, because no stable emulsion was formed. The 2-phenylethanol could be backextracted from the composite resin, yielding a concentrated and almost cell-free solution. In comparison to two-phase extractive fermentations with cells immobilized in alginate-reinforced chitosan beads, the use of a composite resin was extremely inexpensive and simple. In addition, the composite resin was found to be insensitive to abrasion and chemically stable, such that sterilization with 2 M NaOH or heat was possible. Finally, the composite resin could be produced on a large scale using commercially available equipment.