Enrichment of Hydrogen-Oxidizing Bacteria from HighTemperature and High-Salinity Environments

Raquel Barbosa, H Pieter J van Veelen, Vanessa Pinheiro, Tom Sleutels, Willy Verstraete, Nico Boon

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There is an urgent need for sustainable protein supply routes with low
environmental footprint. Recently, the use of hydrogen-oxidizing bacteria (HOB) as a platform for high-quality microbial protein (MP) production has regained interest. This study aims to investigate the added value of using conditions such as salt and temperature to steer HOB communities to lower diversities, while maintaining a high protein content and a high-quality amino acid profile. Pressure drop and hydrogen consumption were measured for 56 days to evaluate autotrophy of a total of six communities in serum flasks. Of the six communities, four were enriched under saline (0.0, 0.25, 0.5, and 1.0 mol NaCl liter21) and two under thermophilic conditions (65°C). Five communities enriched for HOB were subsequently cultivated in continuously stirred reactors under the same conditions to evaluate their potential as microbial protein producers. The protein percentages ranged from 41 to 80%. The highest
protein content was obtained for the thermophilic enrichments. Amino acid profiles were comparable to protein sources commonly used for feed purposes. Members of the genus Achromobacter were found to dominate the saline enrichments, while members of the genus Hydrogenibacillus were found to dominate the thermophilic enrichments. Here, we show that enriching for HOB while steering the community toward low diversity and maintaining a high-quality protein content can be successfully achieved, in both saline and thermophilic conditions. IMPORTANCE Alternative feed and food supply chains are required to decrease water and land use. HOB offer a promising substitute for traditional agricultural practice to produce microbial protein (MP) from residual materials and renewable energy. To safeguard product stability, the composition of the HOB community should be controlled. Defining strategies to maintain the stability of the communities is therefore key for optimization purposes. In this study, we use salt and temperature as independent conditions to stabilize the composition of the HOB communities. Based on the results presented, we conclude that HOB communities can be steered to have low
diversity using the presented conditions while producing a desirable protein content with a valuable amino acid profile.
Original languageEnglish
Article number e02439-20
JournalApplied and environmental microbiology
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Externally publishedYes

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