University of Innsbruck
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 Austrian Science Fund project Trichotreat

Causal-analytical investigation of biological pre-treatment using the cellulolytic fungus Trichoderma viride for increased biogas production


2017 - 2020

Principal Investigator

Andreas O. Wagner

Concept and goals

Concept and goals:

For purpose of anaerobic digestion (AD), in past years substrate spectra have been broadened as well as the application of pre-treatment strategies were extended progressively to better exploit the energy present in the substrate. Biological pre-treatment strategies are increasingly being advocated as environmentally friendly processes with low energy input, low disposal costs, mild operation conditions, and minimal by-product formation and have the advantage over non-biological procedures of producing potentially useful by-products . Biological pre-treatment can employ a multitude of metabolically versatile microorganisms capable of degrading (ligno)cellulosic biomass. A closer inspection reveals that the ability to digest cellulose is widely distributed among many genera in the domain of Bacteria and in the fungal groups within the domain of Eukarya. Basically, the degradation of cellulose is enabled by the cleavage and the further exploitation of the constituent sugars acting as carbon sources for subsequent microorganisms. In the course of previous investigations an improved biogas and methane yield due to a biological pre-treatment using the cellulolytic fungus Trichoderma viride on standardized bio-waste as a substrate was found. However, the mechanisms underlying the improved biogas yield were still awaiting elucidation and the aims of the present project were to investigate

  • to investigate the effect of T. viride, its distribution and cellulolytic activity during the aerobic pre-treatment.
  • to investigate T. viride triggered biochemical changes during the aerobic pre-treatment in order to understand the impact on the downstream anaerobic digestion process.
  • the engaged fungal and bacterial consortia during aerobic pre-treatment as well as the bacterial and archaeal community during downstream anaerobic digestion.

The project was divided into 3 work packages (WP), with the first one dealing with the upscaling of the pre-treatment process using T. viride, WP2 investigating the aerobic pre-treatment, and WP3 the subsequent anaerobic digestion step, both biochemically and microbiologically.

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