Cyanobacterial biomass as carbohydrate and nutrient feedstock for bioethanol production by yeast fermentation

K Benedikt Möllers, D. Canella, Henning Jørgensen, Niels-Ulrik Frigaard

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

619 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Microbial bioconversion of photosynthetic biomass is a promising approach to the generation of biofuels and other bioproducts. However, rapid, high-yield, and simple processes are essential for successful applications. Here, biomass from the rapidly growing photosynthetic marine cyanobacterium Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002 was fermented using yeast into bioethanol. Results: The cyanobacterium accumulated a total carbohydrate content of about 60% of cell dry weight when cultivated under nitrate limitation. The cyanobacterial cells were harvested by centrifugation and subjected to enzymatic hydrolysis using lysozyme and two alpha-glucanases. This enzymatic hydrolysate was fermented into ethanol by Saccharomyces cerevisiae without further treatment. All enzyme treatments and fermentations were carried out in the residual growth medium of the cyanobacteria with the only modification being that pH was adjusted to the optimal value. The highest ethanol yield and concentration obtained was 0.27 g ethanol per g cell dry weight and 30 g ethanol L-1, respectively. About 90% of the glucose in the biomass was converted to ethanol. The cyanobacterial hydrolysate was rapidly fermented (up to 20 g ethanol L-1 day-1) even in the absence of any other nutrient additions to the fermentation medium. Conclusions: Cyanobacterial biomass was hydrolyzed using a simple enzymatic treatment and fermented into ethanol more rapidly and to higher concentrations than previously reported for similar approaches using cyanobacteria or microalgae. Importantly, as well as fermentable carbohydrates, the cyanobacterial hydrolysate contained additional nutrients that promoted fermentation. This hydrolysate is therefore a promising substitute for the relatively expensive nutrient additives (such as yeast extract) commonly used for Saccharomyces fermentations. © 2014 Möllers et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
JournalBiotechnology for Biofuels
Issue number1
Number of pages11
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • Energy (all)
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Biotechnology
  • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Bioethanol
  • Cyanobacteria
  • Microalgae
  • Saccharomyces
  • Yeast extract
  • Algae
  • Biomass
  • Carbohydrates
  • Cultivation
  • Enzymatic hydrolysis
  • Ethanol
  • Fermentation
  • Microorganisms
  • Yeast
  • Bio-ethanol production
  • Enzymatic hydrolysates
  • Fermentable carbohydrate
  • Marine cyanobacterium
  • Micro-algae
  • Yeast extracts
  • Nutrients
  • biofuel
  • biomass
  • carbohydrate
  • concentration (composition)
  • cyanobacterium
  • ethanol
  • fermentation
  • hydrolysis
  • microalga
  • nutrient
  • photosynthesis
  • yeast
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae
  • Synechococcus elongatus PCC 6301
  • Synechococcus sp. PCC 7002


Dive into the research topics of 'Cyanobacterial biomass as carbohydrate and nutrient feedstock for bioethanol production by yeast fermentation'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this