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Comparison of methods for detoxification of spruce hydrolysate for bacterial cellulose production

Xiang Guo12, Adnan Cavka134, Leif J Jönsson13* and Feng Hong12*

Author Affiliations

1 China-Sweden Associated Research Laboratory in Industrial Biotechnology, College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Donghua University, Shanghai 201620, China

2 Group of Microbiological Engineering and Industrial Biotechnology, College of Chemistry, Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology, Donghua University, Shanghai 201620, China

3 Department of Chemistry, Umeå University, Umeå SE-901 87, Sweden

4 Industrial Graduate School, Umeå University, Umeå SE-901 87, Sweden

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Microbial Cell Factories 2013, 12:93  doi:10.1186/1475-2859-12-93

Published: 12 October 2013



Bacterial cellulose (BC) is a nanostructured material with unique properties and wide applicability. In order to decrease the production cost of bacterial cellulose, lignocellulose-based media have considerable potential as alternative cost-effective feedstocks. However, pretreatment and enzymatic hydrolysis of lignocellulose to sugars also generate fermentation inhibitors. Detoxification of lignocellulosic hydrolysates is needed to achieve efficient production of BC. In this investigation, different methods for detoxification of spruce hydrolysate prior to production of BC were compared with respect to effects on potential inhibitors and fermentable sugars, sugar consumption, BC yield, and cell viability. The objectives were to identify efficient detoxification methods and to achieve a better understanding of the role played by different inhibitors in lignocellulosic hydrolysates.


In a first series of experiments, the detoxification methods investigated included treatments with activated charcoal, alkali [sodium hydroxide, calcium hydroxide (overliming), and ammonium hydroxide], anion and cation ion-exchange resins, and reducing agents (sodium sulfite and sodium dithionite). A second series of detoxification experiments included enzymatic treatments (laccase and peroxidase). The potential inhibitors studied included aliphatic acids, furan aldehydes, and phenolic compounds. The best effects in the first series of detoxification experiments were achieved with activated charcoal and anion exchanger. After detoxification with activated charcoal the BC yield was 8.2 g/L, while it was 7.5 g/L in a reference medium without inhibitors. Treatments with anion exchanger at pH 10 and pH 5.5 gave a BC yield of 7.9 g/L and 6.3 g/L, respectively. The first series of experiments suggested that there was a relationship between the BC yield and phenolic inhibitors. Therefore, the second series of detoxification experiments focused on treatments with phenol-oxidizing enzymes. The BC yield in the laccase-detoxified hydrolysate reached 5.0-5.5 g/L after 14 days cultivation, which demonstrated the important inhibitory role played by phenolic compounds.


The investigation shows that detoxification methods that efficiently remove phenolics benefit bacterial growth and BC production. Negative effects of salts could not be excluded and the osmotolerance of Gluconacetobacter xylinus needs to be further investigated in the future. Combinations of detoxification methods that efficiently decrease the concentration of inhibitors remain as an interesting option.

Bacterial cellulose; Gluconacetobacter xylinus; Norway spruce hydrolysate; Detoxification methods