Background: Here we describe a novel cultivation method, called EnBase™, or enzyme-based-substrate-delivery, for the growth of microorganisms in millilitre and sub-millilitre scale which yields 5 to 20 times higher cell densities compared to standard methods. The novel method can be directly applied in microwell plates and shake flasks without any requirements for additional sensors or liquid supply systems. EnBase is therefore readily applicable for many high throughput applications, such as DNA production for genome sequencing, optimisation of protein expression, production of proteins for structural genomics, bioprocess development, and screening of enzyme and metagenomic libraries. Results: High cell densities with EnBase are obtained by applying the concept of glucose-limited fed-batch cultivation which is commonly used in industrial processes. The major difference of the novel method is that no external glucose feed is required, but glucose is released into the growth medium by enzymatic degradation of starch. To cope with the high levels of starch necessary for high cell density cultivation, starch is supplied to the growing culture suspension by continuous diffusion from a storage gel. Our results show that the controlled enzyme-based supply of glucose allows a glucose-limited growth to high cell densities of OD600 = 20 to 30 (corresponding to 6 to 9 g l-1 cell dry weight) without the external feed of additional compounds in shake flasks and 96-well plates. The final cell density can be further increased by addition of extra nitrogen during the cultivation. Production of a heterologous triosphosphate isomerase in E. coli BL21(DE3) resulted in 10 times higher volumetric product yield and a higher ratio of soluble to insoluble product when compared to the conventional production method. Conclusion: The novel EnBase method is robust and simple-to-apply for high cell density cultivation in shake flasks and microwell plates. The potential of the system is that the microbial growth rate and oxygen consumption can be simply controlled by the amount (and principally also by the activity) of the starch-degrading enzyme. This solves the problems of uncontrolled growth, oxygen limitation, and severe pH drop in shaken cultures. In parallel the method provides the basis for enhanced cell densities. The feasibility of the new method has been shown for 96-well plates and shake flasks and we believe that it can easily be adapted to different microwell and deepwell plate formats and shake flasks. Therefore EnBase will be a helpful tool especially in high throughput applications.
- shake flask
- high cell density
- shake flask culture
- final cell density
- high cell density cultivation