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Bioengineered bugs

Filamentous fungi in good shape: microparticles for tailor-made fungal morphology and enhanced enzyme production.


PMID 21636997

Abstract

Filamentous fungi such as Aspergillus niger are important biocatalysts for industrial production of various enzymes as well as organic acids or antibiotics. In suspended culture these microorganisms exhibit a complex morphology which typically has a strong influence on their production properties. In this regard, we have recently shown that the addition of inorganic micro particles to the culture medium is a straightforward and elegant approach to precisely tame fungal morphology. For A. niger a full range of morphological forms from pellets with different diameters to free mycelium could be adjusted by supplementation with talc powder. Aluminium oxide particles similarly affected morphology, showing that this effect is largely independent of the chemical particle composition. Exemplified for different recombinant A. niger strains enzyme production could be strongly enhanced by the addition of microparticles. This was demonstrated for the production of fructofuranosidase, an important high-value biocatalyst for pre-biotic fructo-oligosaccharides, by recombinant A. niger. In a microparticle enhanced fed-batch process, a highly productive mycelium could be achieved. The enzyme titre of 2800 U/mL finally reached was more then tenfold higher then that of any other process reported so far. Here we provide additional insights into the novel production process. This includes the confirmation of the highly selective production of the target enzyme fructofuranosidase using MALDI-TOF MS analysis. Moreover, we show that the obtained enzyme suspension can be efficiently used with minimal pre-treatment for the biosynthesis of short chain fructooligosaccharides of the inulin type, such as 1-kestose and 1-nystose, prebiotics with substantial commercial interest. In particular, these compounds are highly attractive for human consumption, since they have been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer. In summary, the use of microparticles opens a new avenue of engineering fungal morphology into the desired form for specific production processes.

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