Inhibition of microbial biofuel production in drought-stressed switchgrass hydrolysate


Ong RG, Higbee A, Bottoms S, Dickinson Q, Xie D, Smith SA, Serate J, Pohlmann E, Jones AD, Coon JJ, Sato TK, Sanford GR, Eilert D, Oates LG, Piotrowski JS, Bates DM, Cavalier D, & Zhang Y (2016). Inhibition of microbial biofuel production in drought-stressed switchgrass hydrolysate. Biotechnology for Biofuels 9:237.


Interannual variability in precipitation, particularly drought, can affect lignocellulosic crop biomass yields and composition, and is expected to increase biofuel yield variability. However, the effect of precipitation on downstream fermentation processes has never been directly characterized. In order to investigate the impact of interannual climate variability on biofuel production, corn stover and switchgrass were collected during 3 years with significantly different precipitation profiles, representing a major drought year (2012) and 2 years with average precipitation for the entire season (2010 and 2013). All feedstocks were AFEX (ammonia fiber expansion)-pretreated, enzymatically hydrolyzed, and the hydrolysates separately fermented using xylose-utilizing strains of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and Zymomonas mobilis. A chemical genomics approach was also used to evaluate the growth of yeast mutants in the hydrolysates.

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Correspondence and reasonable requests for data or materials should be addressed to Rebecca Garlock Ong (

Biomass analytics
Field data