Alberto Domínguez, Francisco J. Deive, Lorenzo Pastrana, Maria L. Rúa, Maria A. Longo and M. Angeles Sanroman


Several studies in laboratory-scale bioreactors are undertaken in order to verify the beneficial effect of thermal spring water in the culture medium of Thermus thermophilus HB27. Two bioreactor configurations, stirred tank and airlift, are investigated to determine the most suitable one to develop a continuous process. Water mineral composition affects the lipolytic enzyme secretion and growth of T. thermophilus HB27 in both bioreactor configurations. Furthermore, the lipolytic activity is strongly enhanced when stirred tank bioreactor is used. Moreover, operation in a stirred tank at an agitation rate of 650 rpm leads to the highest total lipolytic activity (intra- and extracellular enzyme) around 280 U/L after 32 h. Continuous cultures operating in the optimised conditions determined in batch cultures are carried out. It is noticeable that the stirred tank bioreactor was able to operate in a continuous flow mode without operational problems. In addition, the lipolytic activity obtained is about 2-fold higher than that attained in batch cultures.

Keywords Airlift – Continuous – Lipolytic activity – Stirred tank – Thermal spring water –  Thermus

Bioprocess and Biosystems Engineering

Volume 33, Number 3 / March, 2010 pages: 347-354