New manuscript published in BioBio
Process Boundaries of Irreversible scCO2-assisted Phase Separation in Bi-Phasic Whole Cell Biocatalysis
Brandenbusch C, Glonke S, Collins J, Hoffrogge R, Grunwald K, Bühler B, Schmid A, Sadowski G
Biotechnology & Bioengineering, 2015 May 25. doi: 10.1002/bit.25655
The formation of stable emulsions in biphasic biotransformations catalyzed by microbial cells turned out to be a major hurdle for industrial implementation. Recently, a costeffective and efficient downstream processing approach, using supercritical carbon dioxide (scCO2) for both irreversible emulsion destabilization (enabling complete phase separationwithin minutes of emulsion treatment) and product purification via extraction has been proposed by Brandenbusch et al. (2010). One of the key factors for a further development and scale-up of the approach is the understanding of the mechanism underlying scCO2-assisted phase separation. A systematic approach was applied within this work to investigate the various factors influencing phase separation during scCO2 treatment (that is pressure, exposure of the cells to CO2, and changes of cell surface properties). It was shown that cell toxification and cell disrupture are not responsible for emulsion destabilization. Proteins from the aqueous phase partially adsorb to cells present at the aqueous-organic interface, causing hydrophobic cell surface characteristics, and thus contribute to emulsion stabilization. By investigating the change in cell-surface hydrophobicity of these cells during CO2 treatment, it was found that acombination of catastrophic phase inversion and desorption of proteins from the cell surface is responsible for irreversible scCO2 mediated phase separation. These findings are essential for the definition of process windows for scCO2-assisted phase separation in biphasic whole-cell biocatalysis.