Solid-state fermentation (SSF) is prone to process failure due to channeling caused by evaporative cooling and the formation of an interparticle mycelium network. Mixing is needed to break the mycelium network and to avoid such failure. This study presents the first attempt to quantify and predict the effect of mycelium bonds on particle mixing and vice versa. We developed a novel experimental set-up to measure the tensile strength of hyphal bonds in SSF: Aspergillus oryzae was cultivated between two wheat-dough disks and the tensile strength of the aerial mycelium was measured with a texture analyzer. Tensile strength at different incubation times was related to oxygen consumption, to allow a translation to a rotating drum with A. oryzae cultivated on wheat grain. We performed several discontinuously mixed solid-state fermentations in the drum fermentor and measured the number and size of grain-aggregates remaining after the first mixing action. We integrated data on mycelium tensile strength into a previously developed two-dimensional discrete-particle model that calculates forces acting on individual substrate particles and the resulting radial-particle movements. The discrete-particle model predicted the quantity and size of the aggregates remaining after mixing successfully. The results show that the first mixing event in SSF with A. oryzae is needed to break mycelium to avoid aggregate formation in the grain bed, and not to distribute water added to compensate for evaporation losses, or smooth out temperature gradients.
Schutyser, M. A. I., Schutyser, M. A. I., de Pagter, P., Weber, F. J., Briels, W. J., Boom, R. M., ... Rinzema, A. (2003). Substrate aggregation due to aerial hyphae during discontinuously mixed solid-state fermentation with Aspergillus oryzae: Experiments and modeling. Biotechnology and bioengineering, 83(5), 503-513. https://doi.org/10.1002/bit.10693