Identification of soil bacteria capable of utilizing a corn ethanol fermentation byproduct
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A commercial corn ethanol production byproduct (syrup) was used as a bacterial growth medium with the long-term aim to repurpose the resulting microbial biomass as a protein supplement in aquaculture feeds. Anaerobic batch reactors were used to enrich for soil bacteria metabolizing the syrup as the sole nutrient source over an eight-day period with the goal of obtaining pure cultures of facultative organisms from the reactors. Amplification of the V4 variable region of the 16S rRNA gene was performed using barcoded primers to track the succession of microbes enriched for during growth on the syrup. The resulting PCR products were sequenced using Illumina MiSeq protocols, analyzed via the program QIIME, and the alpha-diversity was calculated. Seven bacterial families were the most prevalent in the bioreactor community after eight days of enrichment: Clostridiaceae, Alicyclobacillaceae, Ruminococcaceae, Burkholderiaceae, Bacillaceae, Veillonellaceae, and Enterobacteriaceae. Pure culture isolates obtained from the reactors, and additional laboratory stock strains, capable of facultative growth, were grown aerobically in microtiter plates with the syrup substrate to monitor growth yield. Reactor isolates of interest were identified at a species level using the full 16S rRNA gene and other biomarkers. Bacillus species, commonly used as probiotics in aquaculture, showed the highest biomass yield of the monocultures examined. Binary combinations of monocultures yielded no apparent synergism between organisms, suggesting competition for nutrients instead of cooperative metabolite conversion. © 2019 Packard et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.