Journal of industrial microbiology & biotechnology

Long-term adaptation of Escherichia coli to methanogenic co-culture enhanced succinate production from crude glycerol.

PMID 29230577


Escherichia coli can hardly grow anaerobically on glycerol without exogenous electron acceptor. The formate-consuming methanogen Methanobacterium formicicum plays a role as a living electron acceptor in glycerol fermentation of E. coli. Wild-type and mutant E. coli strains were screened for succinate production using glycerol in a co-culture with M. formicicum. Subsequently, E. coli was adapted to glycerol fermentation over 39 rounds (273 days) by successive co-culture with M. formicicum. The adapted E. coli (19.9 mM) produced twice as much succinate as non-adapted E. coli (9.7 mM) and 62% more methane. This study demonstrated improved succinate production from waste glycerol using an adapted wild-type strain of E. coli with wild-type M. formicicum, which is more useful than genetically modified strains. Crude glycerol, an economical feedstock, was used for the cultivation. Furthermore, the increase in methane production by M. formicicum during co-culture with adapted E. coli illustrated the possibility of energy-saving effects for the fermentation process.