Frank Kensy, Christoph Engelbrecht, Jochen Büchs:
Scale-up from microtiter plate to laboratory fermenter: evaluation by online monitoring techniques of growth and protein expression in Escherichia coli and Hansenula polymorpha fermentations
Microbial Cell Factories, 2009, 8:68
Background In the past decade, an enormous number of new bioprocesses have evolved in the biotechnology industry. These bioprocesses have to be developed fast and at a maximum productivity. Up to now, only few microbioreactors were developed to fulfill these demands and to facilitate sample processing. One predominant reaction platform is the shaken microtiter plate (MTP), which provides high-throughput at minimal expenses in time, money and work effort. By taking advantage of this simple and efficient microbioreactor array, a new online monitoring technique for biomass and fluorescence, called BioLector, has been recently developed. The combination of high-throughput and high information content makes the BioLector a very powerful tool in bioprocess development. Nevertheless, the scalabilty of results from the micro-scale to laboratory or even larger scales is very important for short development times. Therefore, engineering parameters regarding the reactor design and its operation conditions play an important role even on a micro-scale. In order to evaluate the scale-up from a microtiter plate scale (200 μL) to a stirred tank fermenter scale (1.4 L), two standard microbial expression systems, Escherichia coli and Hansenula polymorpha, were fermented in parallel at both scales and compared with regard to the biomass and protein formation. Results Volumetric mass transfer coefficients (kLa) ranging from 100 to 350 1/h were obtained in 96-well microtiter plates. Even with a suboptimal mass transfer condition in the microtiter plate compared to the stirred tank fermenter (kLa = 370-600 1/h), identical growth and protein expression kinetics were attained in bacteria and yeast fermentations. The bioprocess kinetics were evaluated by optical online measurements of biomass and protein concentrations exhibiting the same fermentation times and maximum signal deviations below 10% between the scales. In the experiments, the widely applied green fluorescent protein (GFP) served as an online reporter of protein expression for both strains. Conclusions The successful 7000-fold scale-up from a shaken microtiter plate to a stirred tank fermenter was demonstrated in parallel fermentations for standard microbial expression systems. This confirms that the very economical and time efficient platform of microtiter plates can be very easily scaled up to larger stirred tank fermenters under defined engineering conditions. New online monitoring techniques for microtiter plates, such as the BioLector, provide even more real-time kinetic data from fermentations than ever before and at an affordable price. This paves the way for a better understanding of the bioprocess and a more rational process design.