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Advances in Biochemical Engineering/Biotechnology

The Taming of the ShrewóControlling the Morphology of Filamentous Eukaryotic and Prokaryotic Microorganisms

Robert Walisko, Judith Moench-Tegeder, Jana Blotenberg, Thomas Wucherpfennig, Rainer Krull

Institute of Biochemical Engineering, Technische Universität Braunschweig, Gaußstraße 17, 38106, Braunschweig, Germany.


One of the most sensitive process characteristics in the cultivation of filamentous biological systems is their complex morphology. In submerged cultures, the observed macroscopic morphology of filamentous microorganisms varies from freely dispersed mycelium to dense spherical pellets consisting of a more or less dense, branched and partially intertwined network of hyphae. Recently, the freely dispersed mycelium form has been in high demand for submerged cultivation because this morphology enhances the growth and production of several valuable products. A distinct filamentous morphology and productivity are influenced by the environment and can be controlled by inoculum concentration, spore viability, pH value, cultivation temperature, dissolved oxygen concentration, medium composition, mechanical stress or process mode as well as through the addition of inorganic salts or microparticles, which provides the opportunity to tailor a filamentous morphology. The suitable morphology for a given bioprocess varies depending on the desired product. Therefore, the advantages and disadvantages of each morphological type should be carefully evaluated for every biological system. Because of the high industrial relevance of filamentous microorganisms, research in previous years has aimed at the development of tools and techniques to characterise their growth and obtain quantitative estimates of their morphological properties. The focus of this review is on current advances in the characterisation and control of filamentous morphology with a separation of eukaryotic and prokaryotic systems. Furthermore, recent strategies to tailor the morphology through classical biochemical process parameters, morphology and genetic engineering to optimise the productivity of these filamentous systems are discussed.

Keywords: Filamentous microorganisms, Image analysis, Morphology, Pellets, Rheology.

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