Relationship between shear energy input and sedimentation properties of exopolysaccharide-producing $Streptococcus$ $thermophilus$ strains


separation of the bacteria cells. This separation is most commonly carried out with disc stack separators and needs to be adjusted to the respective strain to obtain a high cell recovery rate. Exopolysaccharides (EPS) produced by several starter cultures, however, have a large negative impact on the separation properties of the cells. These EPS can be divided into cell-bound capsular EPS or free EPS that are released into the surrounding fermentation medium. To improve the separation step, shear forces were applied after fermentation with a gear ring disperser to simulate the impact of a homogenizer and the influence on the separation properties of six Streptococcus thermophilus strains was examined. In case of capsular EPS, the sedimentation velocity of the bacteria increased due to shearing off the capsular EPS layer. Shearing media with free EPS resulted in a viscosity decrease and, hence, in a higher sedimentation velocity, as was determined using a disc centrifuge and a LUMiSizer. Sediment compression as measured with the LUMiSizer was also affected by the shearing step. The results of this study suggest that a defined shear treatment of EPS producing bacterial starter cultures leads to improved separation properties and, hence, higher bacteria yields. We assume that both EPS types affect separation efficiency of the bacteria cells, free EPS because of increased media viscosity and capsular EPS because they act like a friction pad

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