Influence of the nitrogen source on Saccharomyces cerevisiae anaerobic growth and product formation.


To prevent the loss of raw material in ethanol production by anaerobic yeast cultures, glycerol formation has to be reduced. In theory, this may be done by providing the yeast with amino acids, since the de novo cell synthesis of amino acids from glucose and ammonia gives rise to a surplus of NADH, which has to be reoxidized by the formation of glycerol. An industrial strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae was cultivated in batch cultures with different nitrogen sources, i.e., ammonium salt, glutamic acid, and a mixture of amino acids, with 20 g of glucose per liter as the carbon and energy source. The effects of the nitrogen source on metabolite formation, growth, and cell composition were measured. The glycerol yields obtained with glutamic acid (0.17 mol/mol of glucose) or with the mixture of amino acids (0.10 mol/mol) as a nitrogen source were clearly lower than those for ammonium-grown cultures (0.21 mol/mol). In addition, the ethanol yield increased for growth on both glutamic acid (by 9%) and the mixture of amino acids (by 14%). Glutamic acid has a large influence on the formation of products; the production of, for example, alpha-ketoglutaric acid, succinic acid, and acetic acid, increased compared with their production with the other nitrogen sources. Cultures grown on amino acids have a higher specific growth rate (0.52 h-1) than cultures of both ammonium-grown (0.45 h-1) and glutamic acid-grown (0.33 h-1) cells. Although the product yields differed, similar compositions of the cells were attained. The NADH produced in the amino acid, RNA, and extracellular metabolite syntheses was calculated together with the corresponding glycerol formation. The lower-range values of the theoretically calculated yields of glycerol were in good agreement with the experimental yields, which may indicate that the regulation of metabolism succeeds in the most efficient balancing of the redox potential.

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