Cultivation of an immobilized (hyper)thermophilic marine microbial community in a bioreactor

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Cultivation in a bioreactor of immobilized deep-sea hydrothermal microbial community was tested in order to assess the stability and reactivity of this new system. A community composed of eight hydrothermal strains was entrapped in a polymer matrix that was used to inoculate a continuous culture in a gas-lift bioreactor. The continuous culture was performed for 41 days at successively 60°C, 55°C, 60°C, 85°C and 60°C, at pH 6.5, in anaerobic condition and constant dilution rate. Oxic stress and pH variations were tested at the beginning of the incubation. Despite these detrimental conditions, three strains including two strict anaerobes were maintained in the bioreactor. High cell concentrations (3 × 108 cells mL−1) and high ATP contents were measured in both liquid fractions and beads. Cloning-sequencing and qPCR revealed that Bacillus sp. dominated at the early stage, and was later replaced by Thermotoga maritima and Thermococcus sp. Acetate, formate and propionate concentrations varied simultaneously in the liquid fractions. These results demonstrate that these immobilized cells were reactive to culture conditions. They were protected inside the beads during the stress period and released in the liquid fraction when conditions were more favorable. This confirms the advantage of immobilization that highlights the resilience capacity of certain hydrothermal microorganisms after a stress period.

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