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Resolving bacterial contamination of fuel ethanol fermentations with beneficial bacteria – An alternative to antibiotic treatment

Joseph O. Rich, Kenneth M. Bischoff, Timothy D. Leathers, Amber M. Anderson, Siqing Liu, Christopher D. Skory
Bioresource technology 2018 v.247 pp. 357-362
antibiotics, aseptic conditions, bacterial contamination, beneficial microorganisms, coproducts, distillers grains, ethanol fuels, ethanol production, fermentation, lactic acid bacteria, models
Fuel ethanol fermentations are not performed under aseptic conditions and microbial contamination reduces yields and can lead to costly “stuck fermentations”. Antibiotics are commonly used to combat contaminants, but these may persist in the distillers grains co-product. Among contaminants, it is known that certain strains of lactic acid bacteria are capable of causing stuck fermentations, while other strains appear to be harmless. However, it was not previously known whether or how these strains interact one with another. In this study, more than 500 harmless strains of lactic acid bacteria were tested in a model system in combination with strains that cause stuck fermentations. Among these harmless strains, a group of beneficial strains was identified that restored ethanol production to near normal levels. Such beneficial strains may serve as an alternative approach to the use of antibiotics in fuel ethanol production.