Comparison of solid-state and submerged-state fermentation for the bioprocessing of switchgrass to ethanol and acetate by Clostridium phytofermentans

Abhiney Jain, Charles K. Morlok, J. Michael Henson

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33 Scopus citations


The conversion of sustainable energy crops using microbiological fermentation to biofuels and bioproducts typically uses submerged-state processes. Alternatively, solid-state fermentation processes have several advantages when compared to the typical submerged-state processes. This study compares the use of solid-state versus submerged-state fermentation using the mesophilic anaerobic bacterium Clostridium phytofermentans in the conversion of switchgrass to the end products of ethanol, acetate, and hydrogen. A shift in the ratio of metabolic products towards more acetate and hydrogen production than ethanol production was observed when C. phytofermentans was grown under solid-state conditions as compared to submerged-state conditions. Results indicated that the end product concentrations (in millimolar) obtained using solid-state fermentation were higher than using submerged-state fermentation. In contrast, the total fermentation products (in weight of product per weight of carbohydrates consumed) and switchgrass conversion were higher for submerged-state fermentation. The conversion of xylan was greater than glucan conversion under both fermentation conditions. An initial pH of 7 and moisture content of 80 % resulted in maximum end products formation. Scanning electron microscopy study showed the presence of biofilm formed by C. phytofermentans growing on switchgrass under submerged-state fermentation whereas bacterial cells attached to surface and no apparent biofilm was observed when grown under solid-state fermentation. To our knowledge, this is the first study reporting consolidated bioprocessing of a lignocellulosic substrate by a mesophilic anaerobic bacterium under solid-state fermentation conditions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)905-917
Number of pages13
JournalApplied Microbiology and Biotechnology
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This research was funded by US Department of Energy award number DE-FG36-08GO88071. The authors acknowledge the assistance of Jim Frederick at the Pee Dee Research Center where the switchgrass was grown and harvested, JoAn Hudson for assistance with electron microscopy, and the guidance of Karl Kelly.


  • Clostridium phytofermentans
  • Ethanol
  • Lignocellulose
  • Solid-state fermentation
  • Xylan


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