From shake flask to 2 million litres
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LaboratorySunshine through water

Microbial fermentations: from shake flask to 2 million litres

“Never underestimate the power of the microbe”
(Jackson W. Foster, 1914-1966)

Microbes have long been fundamental for the synthesis of antibiotics (penicillin-producing moulds) and fine chemicals.

But microbes have one enormous drawback for use in modern quality-assured production: they do not harbour genes for Good Manufacturing Practice. Bacteria, yeasts and fungi can all exhibit bizarre life styles and have the uncanny ability to lose productivity because their exquisite sensitivity to their environment - nutrition, oxygen, temperature, pH, selection pressures...

...whatever the scale of cultivation.

Exploiting the biochemical ingenuity of microbes usually means living with their idiosyncrasies-especially if a microbe is used whose basic chemical functionalities (let along its genomic sequences) may be almost entirely unknown.

Mapping bioprocess metabolism fills gaps and highlights what can and must be known to understand and manage a microbial fermentation.