Applied and Environmental Microbiology
Published: July 24, 2015
C-DEBI Contribution Number: 233


Continuous culture under elevated pressures is an important technique for expanding the exploration of microbial growth and survival in extreme environments associated with the deep biosphere. Here we present a benchtop stirred continuous culture bioreactor capable of withstanding temperatures ranging from 25 to 120°C and pressures as high as 69 MPa. The system is configured to allow the employment of media enriched in dissolved gases, under oxic or anoxic conditions, while permitting periodic sampling of the incubated organisms with minimal physical/chemical disturbance inside the reactor. In a pilot experiment, the fermentative growth of the thermopiezophilic bacterium Marinitoga piezophila was investigated continuously for 382 h at 65°C and at pressures ranging from 0.1 to 40 MPa while the medium flow rate was varied from 2 to 0.025 ml/min. The enhanced growth observed at 30 and 40 MPa and 0.025 ml/min supports the pressure preferences of M. piezophila when grown fermentatively. This assay successfully demonstrates the capabilities of the bioreactor for continuous culturing at a variety of dilution rates, pressures, and temperatures. We anticipate that this technology will accelerate our understanding of the physiological and metabolic status of microorganisms under temperature, pressure, and energy regimes resembling those of the Earth’s piezosphere.