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Methods to optimize myxobacterial fermentations using off-gas analysis

Stephan Hüttel1 and Rolf Müller12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, Saarland University, Saarbruecken, Germany

2 Helmholtz-Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland, Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology Saarland University, Saarbruecken, Germany

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Microbial Cell Factories 2012, 11:59  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-11-59

Published: 9 May 2012



The influence of carbon dioxide and oxygen on microbial secondary metabolite producers and the maintenance of these two parameters at optimal levels have been studied extensively. Nevertheless, most studies have focussed on their influence on specific product formation and condition optimization of established processes. Considerably less attention has been paid to the influence of reduced or elevated carbon dioxide and oxygen levels on the overall metabolite profiles of the investigated organisms. The synergistic action of both gases has garnered even less attention.


We show that the composition of the gas phase is highly important for the production of different metabolites and present a simple approach that enables the maintenance of defined concentrations of both O2 and CO2 during bioprocesses over broad concentration ranges with a minimal instrumental setup by using endogenously produced CO2. The metabolite profiles of a myxobacterium belonging to the genus Chondromyces grown under various concentrations of CO2 and O2 showed considerable differences. Production of two unknown, highly cytotoxic compounds and one antimicrobial substance was found to increase depending on the gas composition. In addition, the observation of CO2 and O2 in the exhaust gas allowed optimization and control of production processes.


Myxobacteria are becoming increasingly important due to their potential for bioactive secondary metabolite production. Our studies show that the influence of different gas partial pressures should not be underestimated during screening processes for novel compounds and that our described method provides a simple tool to investigate this question.

Myxobacteria; Secondary metabolites; Carbon dioxide; Oxygen; Process automation; Production optimization; Bioprocess; OCQ; COQ; pO2; pCO2