Cryopreservation and fast recovery of enriched syngas-converting microbial communities

Antonio Grimalt-Alemany, Mateusz Łężyk, Konstantinos Asimakopoulos, Ioannis V. Skiadas, Hariklia N. Gavala*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Over the last decades, the use of mixed microbial communities has attracted increasing scientific attention due to their potential biotechnological applications in several emerging technological platforms such as the carboxylate, bioplastic, syngas and bio-electrochemical synthesis platforms. However, this increasing interest has not been accompanied by a parallel development of suitable cryopreservation techniques for microbial communities. While cryopreservation methods for the long-term storage of axenic cultures are well established, their effectiveness in preserving the microbial diversity and functionality of microbial communities has rarely been studied. In this study, the effect of the addition of different cryopreservation agents on the long-term storage of microbial communities at −80 °C was studied using a stable enrichment culture converting syngas into acetate and ethanol. The cryopreservation agents considered in the study were glycerol, dimethylsulfoxide, polyvinylpyrrolidone, Tween 80 and yeast extract, as well as with no addition of cryopreservation agent. Their effectiveness was evaluated based on the microbial activity recovery and the maintenance of the microbial diversity and community structure upon revival of the microbial community. The results showed that the commonly used glycerol and no addition of cryopreservation agent were the least recommendable methods for the long-term frozen storage of microbial communities, while Tween 80 and polyvinylpyrrolidone were overall the most effective. Among the cryoprotectants studied, polyvinylpyrrolidone and especially Tween 80 were the only ones assuring reproducible results in terms of microbial activity recovery and microbial community structure preservation.
Original languageEnglish
Article number115747
JournalWater Research
Number of pages13
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Microbial enrichment
  • Frozen storage
  • Clostridium
  • Fermentation
  • Synthesis gas
  • Ethanol


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