Performance of Aspergillus niger Cultivation in Geometrically Dissimilar Bioreactors Evaluated on the Basis of Morphological Analyses

M. A. Priede, J. J. Vanags and U. E. Viesturs*

Latvian State Institute of Wood Chemistry, 27 Dzerbenes Street, LV-1006 Riga, Latvia

Article history:

Received: March 2, 2000
Accepted: November 8, 2001

Key words:

geometrically dissimilar bioreactors, Aspergillus niger, citric acid, morphology, stirring intensity measuring device, flow energy distribution


The growth of Aspergillus niger, citric acid production and mycelia morphology changes were compared under different mixing conditions in bioreactors with two types of stirrers: Rushton turbine stirrers (RTS1 or RTS2) and axial counterflow stirrers (ACS1 or ACS2). The characteristics of growth, productivity and morphology varied with the mixing system and the applied agitation regime. In the first series of experiments, the flow characteristics of Aspergillus niger broth under different mixing conditions were analysed in a model bioreactor using RTS1 and ACS1. The kinetic energy E of flow fluctuations was measured in gassed and ungassed water and fermentation broth systems using a stirring intensity measuring device (SIMD-f1). The difference of energy E values at different points was more pronounced in the bioreactor with RTS1 than in the case of ACS1. High viscous A. niger broths provided higher energy E values in comparison with water. It was observed that the Aspergillus niger growth rate and citric acid synthesis rate decreased at very high energy E values, the behaviour obviously being connected with the influence of the irreversible shear stress on the mycelial morphology. In the second series of experiments, a higher citric acid yield was achieved in the case of ACS2 at a power input approximately twice lower than in the case of RTS2. Morphological characterization of A. niger pellets was carried out by the image analysis method. ACS2 provided the development of morphology, where pellets and cores had larger area, perimeter and diameter, and the annular region of pellets was looser and more »hairy« in comparison with the case of RTS2. The pellets from the fermentation with RTS2 were smaller, denser, with shorter hyphae in the annular region of pellets, and the broth was characterized by a higher percentage of diffuse mycelia. Power input studies of RTS2 and ACS2 were made at different agitator rotation speeds and gas flow rates using water and Aspergillus niger broths. RTS2 was a high power number mixing system (PO = 6.8), whose PO was practically invariable in different media under study. For ACS2, PO increased approximately 3 times from 0.68 in water to 2.11 in high viscous Aspergillus niger broth. The effect of the agitation and aeration rates on the power input of RTS2 and ACS2 was analysed. ACS2 proved to be more effective, since it lost much less power due to aeration.

*Corresponding author: 
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