Downscaling screening cultures in a multifunctional bioreactor array-on-a-chip for speeding up optimization of yeast-based lactic acid bioproduction

D. Totaro, M. Rothbauer, M.G. Steiger, T. Mayr, H.-Y. Wang, Y.-S. Lin, Michael Sauer, M. Altvater, P. Ertl*, D. Mattanovich*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A key challenge for bioprocess engineering is the identification of the optimum process conditions for the production of biochemical and biopharmaceutical compounds using prokaryotic as well as eukaryotic cell factories. Shake flasks and bench-scale bioreactor systems are still the golden standard in the early stage of bioprocess development, though they are known to be expensive, time-consuming, and labor-intensive as well as lacking the throughput for efficient production optimizations. To bridge the technological gap between bioprocess optimization and upscaling, we have developed a microfluidic bioreactor array to reduce time and costs, and to increase throughput compared with traditional lab-scale culture strategies. We present a multifunctional microfluidic device containing 12 individual bioreactors (V t = 15 µl) in a 26 mm × 76 mm area with in-line biosensing of dissolved oxygen and biomass concentration. Following initial device characterization, the bioreactor lab-on-a-chip was used in a proof-of-principle study to identify the most productive cell line for lactic acid production out of two engineered yeast strains, evaluating whether it could reduce the time needed for collecting meaningful data compared with shake flasks cultures. Results of the study showed significant difference in the strains' productivity within 3 hr of operation exhibiting a 4- to 6-fold higher lactic acid production, thus pointing at the potential of microfluidic technology as effective screening tool for fast and parallelizable industrial bioprocess development.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2046-2057
Number of pages12
JournalBiotechnology and Bioengineering
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • bioanalytics
  • bioprocess development
  • lactic acid production
  • microfluidics
  • Saccharomyces cerevisiae (S. cerevisiae)
  • screening phase
  • sensor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Microbiology and Biotechnology
  • Bioengineering
  • Biotechnology

Fields of Expertise

  • Human- & Biotechnology

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