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Brazilian Archives of Biology and Technology

Print version ISSN 1516-8913On-line version ISSN 1678-4324

Braz. arch. biol. technol. vol.44 no.2 Curitiba June 2001 

Xylitol Production by Candida parapsilosis under Fed-Batch Culture


Sandra A. Furlan1 * and Heizir F. de Castro2
1UNIVILLE - C.P. 1361, 89201-972 , Joinville - SC, Brazil; 2Departamento de Engenharia Química, FAENQUIL- C.P. 116, 12600-000, Lorena - SP, Brazil




Xylitol production by Candida parapsilosis was investigated under fed-batch cultivation, using single (xylose) or mixed (xylose and glucose) sugars as substrates. The presence of glucose in the medium induced the production of ethanol as secondary metabolite and improved specific rates of growth, xylitol formation and substrate consumption. Fractionated supply of the feed medium at constant sugar concentration did not promote any increase on the productivity compared to the single batch cultivation.

Key words: Candida parapsilosis, glucose, xylose, xylitol, fed-batch




Lignocellulosic materials represent an abundant and renewable source of sugars for the production of several chemicals by the biotechnological route. In this particular case, attention has been focused on the utilization of the hemicellulosic fraction to produce either ethanol or xylitol by using suitable organisms (du Preez et al., 1989; Jeffries, 1990; Furlan et al., 1994; Silva & Afschar, 1994).

The industrial interest of xylitol is related to its properties as noncariogenic sweetener. Besides it has high negative heat of solution and, it is tolerated by diabetics due to its insulin-independent metabolic utilization (Bär, 1986).

In yeasts, fermentation of D-xylose proceeds by the pentose phosphate pathway. In the assimilative reactions, D-xylose is first reduced to xylitol by xylose reductase NADPH (or NADH) dependent and subsequently is oxydized to D-xylulose by xylitol dehydrogenase NAD+ dependent (Jeffries, 1990). These steps seem to be critical on this metabolic pathway.

In a previous work (Furlan et al., 1994), we reported that Candida parapsilosis was able to produce xylitol with high specific rates of product formation and low specific rates of growth under oxygen limiting conditions. These suggested the use of a process involving high cell density, such as the one provided by fed-batch culture. This has largely been studied for biomass (Suzuki et al., 1985) and ethanol (du Preez et al., 1989) production, due to its advantages with regard to the productivity and process control (Genon & Ruggeri, 1988). Furthermore, substrate inhibition on growth and product formation can be minimized as sugar concentration is kept low (Limtong et al., 1987).

This work deals with the investigation on the behaviour of Candida parapsilosis for xylitol production under fed-batch cultivation by using single (xylose) or mixed (90% xylose and 10% glucose) sugar substrates. The latter was tested in order to simulate the composition of hemicellulosic hydrolysate.



Candida parapsilosis ATCC 28474 was maintained at 4ºC on agar slants containing glucose (20 gL-1), yeast extract (10 gL-1) and peptone (10 gL-1). Yeast inocula were grown aerobically at 30ºC for 48 hours in Erlenmeyer flasks containing (g L-1): xylose, 20.0; yeast extract, 2.0; KH2PO4, 5.0; MgSO4.7H2O, 0.4; and (NH4)2SO4, 2.0. To prevent a reaction with xylose, (NH4)2SO4 was sterilized separately. The pH was adjusted to 4.5 with orthophosphoric acid. Fermentation media contained xylose (50 gL-1) or a mixture of xylose (45 gL-1) and glucose (5 gL-1). The other nutrients were kept at the concentrations used for inocula preparation. The initial cell concentration was adjusted to 3 x 106 viable cells mL-1. Temperature was maintained at 30ºC and pH initially set to 4.5 was not controlled. Aeration and agitation rate were set to 250 min-1 and 0.3 vvm, respectively. Fermentations were performed in a 20 L laboratory reactor and the working volume varied from 4.0 to 16.0 L. A simple technique of fractionated supply was used. The first batch cultivation was carried out with 4.0 L of culture medium. When the sugar had fallen close to zero, the fermentor was supplied with 4.0 L of fresh medium without removal of the fermented broth. This procedure was repeated three times.

Analytical procedures

Biomass concentration was determined by optical density at 620 nm, with a calibration curve of optical density against biomass dry weight. Xylose and xylitol concentrations were analyzed by HPLC (Waters) on an Interaction Ion 300 column using 0.025 M H2SO4 as eluent. CO2 and O2 concentrations in gas phase were analyzed by GC (Chrompack 437A) on a Paraplot Q (Chrompack 7554) and molecular sieve 5A (Chrompack 7537) columns.



For single sugar (Table 1), the overall product yield on substrate as well as the rates of product formation (productivity) and substrate consumption decreased at each medium recharged. On the other hand, the overall biomass yield on substrate increased. The respiratory quotient remained constant at RQaverage = 1.56, suggesting that the culture was oxygen limited. The maximal specific rates of growth, product formation and substrate consumption are shown in Figure 1. Ethanol was not detected under these culture conditions.





Similar results were found for mixed sugar substrate (Table 2). Xylitol yield and rates of xylitol formation and substrate consumption decreased while an increase on biomass yield was observed. The respiratory quotient (RQaverage = 1.47) suggested also oxygen limitation.



The presence of low glucose concentration (5 gL-1) in the feed medium induced the formation of ethanol as secondary metabolite, reaching a maximum of 2.4 gL-1 in the second step of the experiment. Nevertheless, ethanol productivity decreased from 0.073 to 0.017 g.L-1.h-1 from step 0 to 3. The effect of glucose was also noticeable on the kinetic parameters and values attained for maximal specific rates of growth, product formation and substrate consumption were higher than those observed for single substrate (Figure 2).



Regardless of the sugar substrate composition, biomass growth was favoured and xylitol formation decreased at each feed medium supply. This could be a consequence of the effect caused by the substrate dilution inside the fermentor. As sugar concentration was kept constant in the fresh medium, its concentration in the reactor decreased at each medium supply, limiting the xylitol production. This was in agreement with data reported by Woods & Milles (1985) in which xylitol production by Pachysolen tannophilus was found to be minimized for medium containing xylose at levels lower than 10 gL-1.

Therefore, fed-batch culture performed with feed medium at constant sugar concentration was not effective for xylitol production by Candida parapsilosis. No significant enhancement on the yield of xylitol formation and productivity was attained when comparison was made with data previously published (Furlan et al., 1994) for single batch cultivation (YP/S =0.65 gg-1; Qp = 0.32 gL-1h-1).

To improve fermentative parameters it has been recommended to use exponential feed of sugar medium and to control the concentration of dissolved oxygen in the fermentor (Mori et al., 1979).



The presence of glucose in the culture medium improved the specific rates of growth, xylitol formation and substrate consumption but induced the formation of ethanol as a by-product. Performing the process by using constant sugar concentration in the feed medium was not effective for xylitol production by Candida parapsilosis. Xylitol yield and productivity were similar to those obtained in batch culture only in the first feed medium supply. Exponential sugar feed supply and control of dissolved oxygen concentration are suggested to improve xylitol productivity.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial assistance of CNPq (Conselho Nacional de Desenvolvimento Científico), Brazil. Thanks are also due to the staff of the Laboratoire de Génie pour les Bioindustries, ENSIGC/INP, Toulouse, France, where the experimental work was carried out.




A produção de xylitol por Candida parapsilosis foi investigada em regime de batelada alimentada, usando substratos açucarados de composição simples (xilose) ou composta (xilose e glicose). A presença de glicose no meio induziu a formação de etanol como metabólito secundário. A suplementação fracionada do meio de alimentação numa concentração fixa de açúcar não resultou em aumento da produtividade em relação àquela alcançada em batelada simples.




YP/S Overall yield of product on substrate (gg-1)
YX/S Overall yield of biomass on substrate (gg-1)
QP Productivity (gL-1h-1)
QS Rate of substrate consumption (gL-1h-1)
mmax Maximum specific rate of growth (h-1)
qPmax Maximum specific rate of product formation (gg-1h-1)
qSmax Maximum specific rate of substrate consumption (gg-1h-1)
RQ Respiratory quotient



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du Preez, J. C.; van Driessel, B. and Prior, B. A. (1989), D-xylose fermentation by Candida shehatae and Pichia stipitis at low dissolved oxygen levels in fed-batch cultures. Biotechnol Lett., 11(2), 131-136        [ Links ]

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Received: September 01, 1999;
Revised: July 31, 2000;
Accepted: August 10, 2000.



* Author for correspondence

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