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Effect of various process parameters on morphology, rheology, and polygalacturonase production by Aspergillus sojae in a batch bioreactor
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The effects of pH, agitation speed, and dissolved oxygen tension (DOT), significant in common fungal fermentations, on the production of polygalacturonase (PG) enzyme and their relation to morphology and broth rheology were investigated using Aspergillus sojae in a batch bioreactor. All three factors were effective on the response parameters under study. An uncontrolled pH increased biomass and PG activity by 27% and 38%, respectively, compared to controlled pH (pH 6) with an average pellet size of 1.69 ± 0.48 mm. pH did not significantly affect the broth rheology but created an impact on the pellet morphology. Similarly, at constant agitation speed the maximum biomass obtained at 500 rpm and at 30 h was 3.27 and 3.67 times more than at 200 and 350 rpm, respectively, with an average pellet size of 1.08 ± 0.42 mm. The maximum enzyme productivity of 0.149 U mL-1 h-1 was obtained at 200 rpm with an average pellet size of 0.71 ± 0.35 mm. Non-Newtonian and pseudoplastic broth rheology was observed at 500 rpm agitation speed, broth rheology exhibited dilatant behavior at the lower agitation rate (200 rpm), and at the medium agitation speed (350 rpm) the broth was close to Newtonian. Furthermore, a DOT range of 30-50% was essential for maximum biomass formation, whereas only 10% DOT was required for maximum PG synthesis. Non-Newtonian shear thickening behavior (n > 1.0) was depicted at DOT levels of 10% and 30%, whereas non-Newtonian shear thinning behavior (n < 1.0) was dominant at 50% DOT. The overall fermentation duration (50-70 h) was considerably shorter compared to common fungal fermentations, revealing the economic feasibility of this particular process. As a result this study not only introduced a new strain with a potential of producing a highly commercially significant enzyme but also provided certain parameters significant in the design and mathematical modeling of fungal bioprocesses.