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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Bioconversion of cheese whey permeate into fungal oil by Mucor circinelloides

  • Author(s): Chan, Lauryn G
  • Cohen, Joshua L
  • Ozturk, Gulustan
  • Hennebelle, Marie
  • Taha, Ameer Y
  • L. N. de Moura Bell, Juliana Maria
  • et al.

© 2018 The Author(s). Background: Oleaginous fungi are efficient tools to convert agricultural waste streams into valuable components. The filamentous fungus Mucor circinelloides was cultivated in whey permeate, a byproduct from cheese production, to produce an oil-rich fungal biomass. Response surface methodology was used to optimize the fermentation conditions such as pH and temperature for increased biomass yield and lipid accumulation. Quantification and characterization of the fungal biomass oil was conducted. Results: Upstream lactose hydrolysis of the whey permeate increased the biomass yield from 2.4 to 7.8 (g dry biomass/L) compared to that of non-hydrolyzed whey permeate. The combination of low pH (4.5) and pasteurization minimized microbial competition, thus favoring fungal growth. A central composite rotatable design was used to evaluate the effects of temperature (22.4-33.6 °C) and a lower pH range (3.6-4.7) on biomass yield and composition. The highest biomass yield and oil content was observed at high temperature (33.6 °C), while the pH range evaluated had a less pronounced effect. The predictive model was validated at the optimal conditions of 33.6 °C and pH 4.5. The fungal biomass yield plateaued at 9 g dry cell weight per liter, while the oil content and lipid yield reached a maximum of 24% dry biomass and 2.20 g/L, respectively, at 168 h. Triacylglycerides were the major lipid class (92%), which contained predominantly oleic (41%), palmitic (23%), linoleic (11%), and γ-linolenic acid (9%). Conclusions: This study provided an alternative way of valorization of cheese whey permeate by using it as a substrate for the production of value-added compounds by fungal fermentation. The fatty acid profile indicates the suitability of M. circinelloides oil as a potential feedstock for biofuel production and nutraceutical applications.

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