Dynamics of mycelial aggregation in cultures of Aspergillus oryzae

Ashraf Amanullah, E Leonildi, Alvin Nienow, Colin Thomas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

21 Citations (Scopus)


Previous work has shown that in many mycelial fermentations the predominant morphological form is clumps (aggregates) which cannot be further reduced by dilution. During fermentation, the clump size and shape is affected by fragmentation, which in turn depends on agitation conditions. This paper addresses the question of whether mycelial aggregation can also occur during a fermentation. The dynamics of changes in mycelial morphology due to aggregation were investigated in 5.3-L chemostat cultures of Aspergillus oryzae by imposing a step decrease in agitation speed from 1,000 to 550 rpm under conditions of controlled non-limiting dissolved oxygen tension, with a steady-state biomass concentration of 2 g/L. The mean projected area (size) of the mycelia, measured using image analysis, increased from mum(2) 5,300+/-400 (at 1,000 rpm) to 9,400+/-900 mum(2) (at 550 rpm). This change occurred too rapidly for it to be solely caused by mycelial growth. Instead, it is proposed that the increase in size was indeed due to aggregation, probably due to physico-chemical affects such as hydro-phobicity or charge interactions. Aggregation was also shown to occur in 4-L aerated batch cultures at higher biomass concentrations (5.3 and 11.2 g/L) in which the agitation speed was decreased from 1,100 to 550 rpm. Experiments were also conducted off-line in a mixing vessel in the absence of oxygen. In this case, aggregation was not observed. Thus, though the cause of aggregation at this stage is not clear, aerobic metabolism appears to be required.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)101-107
Number of pages7
JournalBioprocess and Biosystems Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2001


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