Background: High-throughput (HTP) screening is becoming an increasingly useful tool for collating biological data which would otherwise require the employment of excessive resources. Second generation biofuel production is one such process. HTP screening allows the investigation of large sample sets to be undertaken with increased speed and cost effectiveness. This paper outlines a methodology that will enable solid lignocellulosic substrates to be hydrolyzed and fermented at a 96-well plate scale, facilitating HTP screening of ethanol production, whilst maintaining repeatability similar to that achieved at a larger scale. Results: The results showed that utilizing sheets of biomass of consistent density (handbills), for paper, and slurries of pretreated biomass that could be pipetted allowed standardized and accurate transfers to 96-well plates to be achieved (±3.1 and 1.7%, respectively). Processing these substrates by simultaneous saccharification and fermentation (SSF) at various volumes showed no significant difference on final ethanol yields, either at standard shake flask (200 mL), universal bottle (10 mL) or 96-well plate (1 mL) scales. Substrate concentrations of up to 10% (w/v) were trialed successfully for SSFs at 1 mL volume. The methodology was successfully tested by showing the effects of steam explosion pretreatment on both oilseed rape and wheat straws. Conclusions: This methodology could be used to replace large shake flask reactions with comparatively fast 96-well plate SSF assays allowing for HTP experimentation. Additionally this method is compatible with a number of standardized assay techniques such as simple colorimetric, High-performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) and Nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectroscopy. Furthermore this research has practical uses in the biorefining of biomass substrates for second generation biofuels and novel biobased chemicals by allowing HTP SSF screening, which should allow selected samples to be scaled up or studied in more detail.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge the United Kingdom Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) Institute Strategic Programme ‘Food and Health’ (grant number BB/J004545/1) and the Integrated Biorefining Research and Technology Club (IBTI Club; grant number: BB/ H004351/1) in funding this work. We also acknowledge Novozymes Corp for providing the enzymes used in this paper.
© 2015 Elliston et al.; licensee BioMed Central.
- Cellulosic biomass
- Cellulosic ethanol
- Enzyme saccharification
- High-throughput screening
- Simultaneous saccharification and fermentation