Growth medium and electrolyte – how to combine the different requirements on the reaction solution in bioelectrochemical systems using Cupriavidus necator

A. Sydow, T. Krieg, R. Ulber, D. Holtmann

Microbial electrosynthesis is a relatively new research field where microbial carbon dioxide fixation based on the energy supplied by a cathode is investigated. Reaction media used in such bioelectrochemical systems have to fulfill requirements of classical biotechnology as well as electrochemistry. The design and characterization of a medium that enables fast electroautotrophic growth of Cupriavidus necator in microbial electrosynthesis was investigated in detail. The identified chloride-free medium mainly consists of low buffer concentration and is supplied with trace elements. Biotechnologically relevant parameters, such as high specific growth rates and short lag phases, were determined for growth characterization. Fast growth under all conditions tested, i.e. heterotrophic, autotrophic and electroautotrophic was achieved. The lag phase was shortened by increasing the FeSO₄ concentration. Additionally, electrochemical robustness of the reaction media was proven. Under reductive conditions, no deposits on electrodes or precipitations in the media were observed and no detectable hydrogen peroxide evolved. In the bioelectrochemical system, no lag phase occurred and specific growth rate of C. necator was 0.09 h⁻¹. Using this medium shortens seed train drastically and enables fast electrobiotechnological production processes based on C. necator.

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