Physiological and transcriptional responses of different industrial microbes at near-zero specific growth rates

Onur Ercan, M.M.M. Bisschops, Wout Overkamp, T.R. Jørgensen, A.F. Ram, E.J. Smid, J.T. Pronk, O.P. Kuipers, Pascale Daran-Lapujade*, Michiel Kleerebezem

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

25 Citations (Scopus)


The current knowledge of the physiology and gene expression of industrially relevant microorganisms is largely based on laboratory studies under conditions of rapid growth and high metabolic activity. However, in natural ecosystems and industrial processes, microbes frequently encounter severe calorie restriction. As a consequence, microbial growth rates in such settings can be extremely slow and even approach zero. Furthermore, uncoupling microbial growth from product formation, while cellular integrity and activity are maintained, offers perspectives that are economically highly interesting. Retentostat cultures have been employed to investigate microbial physiology at (near-)zero growth rates. This minireview compares information from recent physiological and gene expression studies on retentostat cultures of the industrially relevant microorganisms Lactobacillus plantarum, Lactococcus lactis, Bacillus subtilis, Saccharomyces cerevisiae, and Aspergillus niger. Shared responses of these organisms to (near-)zero growth rates include increased stress tolerance and a downregulation of genes involved in protein synthesis. Other adaptations, such as changes in morphology and (secondary) metabolite production, were species specific. This comparison underlines the industrial and scientific significance of further research on microbial (near-)zero growth physiology.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5662-5670
JournalApplied and Environmental Microbiology
Issue number17
Publication statusPublished - 2015

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