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A novel cell factory for cost-effective production of ethanol from dairy waste

Biotechnology for Biofuels published a new bio-process that optimises the production of ethanol from dairy industry waste. This process has minimized the bio-process to one single step by re-engineering  Lactococcus lactis strain. In using a cell factory system strategy the researchers reduced the cost of the production of ethanol from whey permeate making this new bio-process very attractive for being adopted by industry.


Microbial production of fuel compounds has gained a lot of attention and focus has mostly been on developing bio-processes involving non-food plant biomass feedstocks. The high cost of the enzymes needed to degrade such feedstocks into its constituent sugars as well as problems due to various inhibitors generated in pretreatment are two challenges that have to be addressed if cost-effective processes are to be established. Various industries, especially within the food sector, often have waste streams rich in carbohydrates and/or other nutrients, and these could serve as alternative feedstocks for such bio-processes. The dairy industry is a good example, where large amounts of cheese whey or various processed forms thereof are generated. Because of their nutrient-rich nature, these substrates are particularly well suited as feedstocks for microbial production.

Liu et all. have generated a Lactococcus lactis strain which produces ethanol as its sole fermentation product from the lactose contained in residual whey permeate (RWP), by introducing lactose catabolism into a L. lactis strain CS4435 (MG1363 Δ3 ldh, Δpta, ΔadhE, pCS4268), where the carbon flow has been directed toward ethanol instead of lactate. To achieve growth and ethanol production on RWP, Liu et al. added corn steep liquor hydrolysate (CSLH) as the nitrogen source. The outcome was efficient ethanol production with a titer of 41 g/L and a yield of 70 % of the theoretical maximum using a fed-batch strategy. The combination of a low-cost medium from industrial waste streams and an efficient cell factory should make the developed process industrially interesting.

Read the research article here.

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