Dr. Michael Klocke
Structure and functioning of microbiomes in agricultural biotechnology
In biogas reactors, complex and highly diverse microbial networks consisting of hundreds of different microbial species with numerous but widely uncharacterized metabolic capacities are conducting the anaerobic digestion and biomethanation of organic biomass to biogas. With respect to the biogas yield, the systems microbiology analyzes the synergistic interaction of different microbial groups during anaerobic digestion with the overall aim of the development of most efficient process conditions.The performance of a microbial network consists of a number of factors. As examples, the construction of the biogas fermenter, its operation temperature as well as kind and amount of the fermentation substrates have a significant influence on the microbial metabolism and, hence, on the efficiency of the entire process. The characterization of the structure of the microbiome and its dynamic development during the fermentation under varying process conditions provides fundamental knowledge for the further optimization of biogas production process not least because of the necessity for utilization of up-to-now less regarded organic biomasses and residues or the development of new construction designs for biogas reactors.
Of particular interest is the isolation of microbial species which are able to utilize hardly convertible organic compounds such as lignocellulose or biomass rich in protein. Especially the numerous still unknown and uncharacterized and, hence, biotechnologically unutilized microbial species especially in biogas reactors but also in other agricultural systems provides an enormous potential for new and innovative biotechnological approaches.
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