Dynamics of dark fermentation microbial communities in the light of lactate and butyrate production

Anna Detman, Daniel Laubitz, Aleksandra Chojnacka, Pawel R. Kiela, Agnieszka Salamon, Albert Barberán, Yongjian Chen, Fei Yang, Mieczysław K. Błaszczyk, Anna Sikora

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46 Scopus citations


Background: This study focuses on the processes occurring during the acidogenic step of anaerobic digestion, especially resulting from nutritional interactions between dark fermentation (DF) bacteria and lactic acid bacteria (LAB). Previously, we have confirmed that DF microbial communities (MCs) that fed on molasses are able to convert lactate and acetate to butyrate. The aims of the study were to recognize the biodiversity of DF-MCs able and unable to convert lactate and acetate to butyrate and to define the conditions for the transformation. Results: MCs sampled from a DF bioreactor were grown anaerobically in mesophilic conditions on different media containing molasses or sucrose and/or lactate and acetate in five independent static batch experiments. The taxonomic composition (based on 16S_rRNA profiling) of each experimental MC was analysed in reference to its metabolites and pH of the digestive liquids. In the samples where the fermented media contained carbohydrates, the two main tendencies were observed: (i) a low pH (pH ≤ 4), lactate and ethanol as the main fermentation products, MCs dominated with Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, Leuconostoc and Fructobacillus was characterized by low biodiversity; (ii) pH in the range 5.0–6.0, butyrate dominated among the fermentation products, the MCs composed mainly of Clostridium (especially Clostridium_sensu_stricto_12), Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium and Prevotella. The biodiversity increased with the ability to convert acetate and lactate to butyrate. The MC processing exclusively lactate and acetate showed the highest biodiversity and was dominated by Clostridium (especially Clostridium_sensu_stricto_12). LAB were reduced; other genera such as Terrisporobacter, Lachnoclostridium, Paraclostridium or Sutterella were found. Butyrate was the main metabolite and pH was 7. Shotgun metagenomic analysis of the selected butyrate-producing MCs independently on the substrate revealed C.tyrobutyricum as the dominant Clostridium species. Functional analysis confirmed the presence of genes encoding key enzymes of the fermentation routes. Conclusions: Batch tests revealed the dynamics of metabolic activity and composition of DF-MCs dependent on fermentation conditions. The balance between LAB and the butyrate producers and the pH values were shown to be the most relevant for the process of lactate and acetate conversion to butyrate. To close the knowledge gaps is to find signalling factors responsible for the metabolic shift of the DF-MCs towards lactate fermentation. [MediaObject not available: see fulltext.]

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number158
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • Acetate
  • Butyrate
  • Dark fermentation
  • Lactate
  • Lactic acid bacteria
  • Microbial communities
  • Nutritional interactions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Microbiology (medical)


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