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Biomass and Pigment Production by Monascus during Miniaturized Submerged Culture on Adlay
Three reactor types were explored and successfully used for pigment production by Monascus: shake flasks, and shaken and stirred miniaturized reactors. Also, the use of dielectric spectroscopy for the on-line measurement of biomass levels was explored. Shake flasks gave good pigment yields, but scale up is difficult, and they cannot be automated. Shaken bioreactors were less successful with pigment production than stirred reactors. Experiments with different impeller speeds in different volumes of liquid in the reactor confirmed that this is most likely due oxygen availability. The availability of oxygen appeared to affect biomass levels less than pigment production; red pigment production in particular needed very high oxygen levels. Dielectric spectroscopy was effectively used to continuously measure biomass levels during the submerged fungal fermentation in the shaken and stirred miniaturized bioreactors, despite the presence of the solid substrate particles. Also, the capacitance signal gave useful information about the viability of the cells in the culture.
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