Working Group 4 (WG4)
Working Group 4: Biotechnological applications – exploitation of micro-organisms in low pH manufacturing processes
As fossil fuel reserves decline, the search is on for sustainable and environmentally-friendly processes that can be used to replace them in fuel and polymer production. Microbial fermentation of sugar- and starch -containing raw materials, and lignocellulosic streams, will play a key role in this shift. Susceptibility of microbial cell factories is in this context of major importance. Organic acids are an important group of polymer precursors and their production is preferred at low pH. However, lignocellulosic streams contain large amounts of acetic acid, which is inhibitory for many micro- organisms16.
It is essential for the further development of bioprocesses to understand this inhibition, to enable rational engineering of micro-organisms for low pH bioprocesses. Research on environmental stress and survival strategies of micro-organisms is, however, quite fragmented. Better interaction between groups working on different types of cell factories has the potential to accelerate biotechnological innovation.WG4 will combine groups and knowledge from basic understanding of microbes and application up to industrial level.
(1) Exploit knowledge of microbial responses to low pH collated by WG1 to enhance the robustness of micro-organisms used in biotechnology;
(2) Identify gaps in knowledge (including in engineering and implementation) with special regard to industrial microbiology. Propose and promote initiatives to fill these gaps;
(3) Link researchers in the field of low pH resistance with researchers in the field of industrial microbiology, particularly through helping to foster industry-academic partnerships.