Establishment of molecular markers for the monitoring of cellulolytic organisms in the biogas fermentation process

Cellulolytic microorganisms efficiently degrade cellulose in recalcitrant plant biomass, making it available as a sustainable energy source. A prominent example of this process is the transformation of plant residues into biogas by anaerobic bacterial communities in biogas fermentation. Biogas plants play an emerging role in the production of alternative non-fossil energy sources. To ensure permanent effectivity of the fermentation process the microbial community has to be monitored to predict and prevent process disruptions that can lead to decreased biogas production and reactor collapse.

We plan to establish and to test marker systems for important cellulolytic bacteria suited to monitor the bacterial community. Hence, the ability to detect alterations on the microbial level before physically measurable parameters react can considerably increase the process yield and stability.

The focus of the project is the functional metabolic unit of the cellulolytic and hemicellulolytic bacteria, which have a special importance as they degrade the plant polymers in this initial rate-limiting step of the fermentation.

The better understanding of this process, the standardization of methodological processes coupled with the use of effective marker systems will contribute to the development of a robust and easily applicable assay for direct application in production scale biogas plants.

The project is supported by: