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Development of an itaconic acid production process with Ustilaginaceae on alternative feedstocks.

BMC Biotechnology 2023 September 4
BACKGROUND: Currently, Aspergillus terreus is used for the industrial production of itaconic acid. Although, alternative feedstock use in fermentations is crucial for cost-efficient and sustainable itaconic acid production, their utilisation with A. terreus most often requires expensive pretreatment. Ustilaginacea are robust alternatives for itaconic acid production, evading the challenges, including the pretreatment of crude feedstocks regarding reduction of manganese concentration, that A. terreus poses.

RESULTS: In this study, five different Ustilago strains were screened for their growth and production of itaconic acid on defined media. The most promising strains were then used to find a suitable alternative feedstock, based on the local food industry. U. cynodontis ITA Max pH, a highly engineered production strain, was selected to determine the biologically available nitrogen concentration in thick juice and molasses. Based on these findings, thick juice was chosen as feedstock to ensure the necessary nitrogen limitation for itaconic acid production. U. cynodontis ITA Max pH was further characterised regarding osmotolerance and product inhibition and a successful scale-up to a 2 L stirred tank reactor was accomplished. A titer of 106.4 gitaconic acid /L with a theoretical yield of 0.50 gitaconic acid /gsucrose and a space-time yield of 0.72 gitaconic acid /L/h was reached.

CONCLUSIONS: This study demonstrates the utilisation of alternative feedstocks to produce ITA with Ustilaginaceae, without drawbacks in either titer or yield, compared to glucose fermentations.

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