Understanding gradients in industrial bioreactors

Gisela Nadal-Rey, Dale D. McClure, John M. Kavanagh, Sjef Cornelissen, David F. Fletcher, Krist V. Gernaey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Gradients in industrial bioreactors have attracted substantial research attention since exposure to fluctuating environmental conditions has been shown to lead to changes in the metabolome, transcriptome as well as population heterogeneity in industrially relevant microorganisms. Such changes have also been found to impact key process parameters like the yield on substrate and the productivity. Hence, understanding gradients is important from both the academic and industrial perspectives. In this review the causes of gradients are outlined, along with their impact on microbial physiology. Quantifying the impact of gradients requires a detailed understanding of both fluid flow inside industrial equipment and microbial physiology. This review critically examines approaches used to investigate gradients including large-scale experimental work, computational methods and scale-down approaches. Avenues for future work have been highlighted, particularly the need for further coordinated development of both in silico and experimental tools which can be used to further the current understanding of gradients in industrial equipment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number107660
JournalBiotechnology Advances
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Bioreactor
  • Gradients
  • Scale-down
  • Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD)
  • Compartment model
  • Scale-up
  • Sensor particles
  • Microbial physiology
  • Kinetic modelling
  • Industrial fermentation processes


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