A novel process-based model of microbial growth: self-inhibition in Saccharomyces cerevisiae aerobic fed-batch cultures
de Alteriis, Elisabetta
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Abstract Background Microbial population dynamics in bioreactors depend on both nutrients availability and changes in the growth environment. Research is still ongoing on the optimization of bioreactor yields focusing on the increase of the maximum achievable cell density. Results A new process-based model is proposed to describe the aerobic growth of Saccharomyces cerevisiae cultured on glucose as carbon and energy source. The model considers the main metabolic routes of glucose assimilation (fermentation to ethanol and respiration) and the occurrence of inhibition due to the accumulation of both ethanol and other self-produced toxic compounds in the medium. Model simulations reproduced data from classic and new experiments of yeast growth in batch and fed-batch cultures. Model and experimental results showed that the growth decline observed in prolonged fed-batch cultures had to be ascribed to self-produced inhibitory compounds other than ethanol. Conclusions The presented results clarify the dynamics of microbial growth under different feeding conditions and highlight the relevance of the negative feedback by self-produced inhibitory compounds on the maximum cell densities achieved in a bioreactor.